I was having a conversation with a dear friend this weekend, who is also a creative entrepreneur, about what it is exactly that makes one person's products or art stand out against another's. Art is so subjective, and everyone's tastes vary a little. But the one thing my friend and I settled on that seems to be the key to making something great is the heated pursuit of exploration in one's work.
That almost obsessive need to make something the best it can be and experiment endlessly with it.
And you can see it in the work of others. Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint. Some people are able to employ this deeper feeling in their work, even if it's not marketed to every person on the planet. It just works. And then you see others trying to emulate that, or simply applying medium to canvas and it lacks something. These are talented people who know how to make or do something. But it lacks that exploration.
There's a part of committing to exploration that is scary. It means trying something new and putting it out into the world, the consequence of which being rejection. It means asking lots of questions, and accepting that we may not like the answers. But when it works, we are one step closer to that something special. It just takes a lot of courage (or shamelessness?) to draw attention to it one more time. Every time.
The times that I have felt totally overwhelmed, desperate, or lost and just said, fuck it, I have to try something else, have been the times that some of my most personally satisfying work has emerged. Those have also been some of the times that my work is most warmly received. I let go of what I thought I should do and started exploring the medium--or a totally new medium--on a much grittier level.
So those people that are able to employ that deeper meaning? They have usually been at this for a while. And the longer I am at this, the more apparent it becomes that I can never stop learning how to make what I do better. I think this concept is applicable to all areas of life: spirituality, relationships, careers, health...
It means so much to me. Something that started as a leap of faith to just see what happened when I put something that I made into the world has become an obsession to make it really, really good. And that's not to say that I have made it. It's just to say that I want to, and I know I will always be pursuing it.