Becoming an Artist


Yesterday, I gave a manifesto on why we should all be Artists.

Today, I’d like to take it a notch further by sharing a few ideas on how to do Art and bring creativity to our work.

You know, someone has said that everybody looks but not everyone sees. That seeing is a unique ability that makes the difference in people.

Seeing requires us to dig beyond the obvious and all the peripheral characteristics of a thing, down to its hidden details and sometimes even its externalities. To see, it must happen in your mind first before it happens on the outward. Seeing requires education and exposure – the kind that creates a mind that can resonate with new information. This kind of mind is able to offer the breadth and neural bandwidth that can capture the minutest possible insight.

Seeing takes effort, it takes focus and intention and curiosity. You may skim through a book to merely look at it, but you study a book to see it — to not only see what’s there but also what’s not there.

When two persons are handed a similar document, depending on the breadth and depth of their intellectual frame, both of them will likely make different interpretations of it. One reads vocabulary and spellings, the other reads meaning and insight….one looks at the historical data and gleans what has happened, the other engages with the same data and sees what can happen. The first at his best asks why and the other not only ask why but also why not. If I give you an X-ray result, you may look at it very intensely and pass it off as a thin of film paper with just a body image….and even appreciate the texture/look and feel of the paper. But a medical doctor sees life or death in it. And it probably took him 6 years of study to be able to see that.

Sometimes the sight that comes from looking can be a distraction to the insight that opens up to us when we choose to see, if we are not careful.

Seeing is a lot of work — it’s a posture, an attitude and a disposition, to think deeply about what you are looking at. Deep enough to draw relevant insights from it. And again, it takes education i.e the building of the mental frame that creates the necessary neural connections, and empathy i.e. the posture for providing solutions to demonstrable human problems and most importantly it takes curiosity, i.e the openness to not assume you already know what’s in a text but to hope for something entirely new.

It takes a lot of effort to see. And you cannot do Art unless you are willing to see.

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