Muse: a source of inspiration; especially; a guiding genius.
Artists of all sorts sometimes refer to a person, incident or event as a muse that inspires their work. Andrew Wyeth’s Helga Pictures and Eric Clapton’s Layla come to mind. Perhaps it is fitting on this Valentine’s Day weekend to consider that a muse is quite the romantic notion. Romance aside, the career’s of these above mentioned stellar artists are not wholly formed on the famous work inspired by their muses.
It is undeniable that a muse is the source of inspiration for some artists who attributed their creativity to it. I believe all people have creativity residing in them. As such, that means we all have muses to inspire us.
Muses are not the difference between the average person and successful artists. If we are aware, we all have momentary flashes of brilliance. They often occur when the mind is relaxed, such as in the shower, where the brain produces more alpha waves.
Some creative people do show greater amounts of alpha waves than the average person does. Still, greater creative career success rarely is due to extra bursts of creativity.
Success is much more than having higher alpha waves or creative thoughts. Talent, execution and ambition are more influential in career success than merely tapping a muse for inspiration.
Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just get to work.
Every great idea I ever had grew out of work itself.~ Chuck Close
Close is a superb example, even a muse of sorts for other creatives, that is a muse who gets things done by doing, by taking action. He believes as the quote above attests, that work, the doing is the point. So do I.
Check out this video on Chuck Close from the CBS Morning show, “Notes to Younger Self” series.
If you want more from Chuck Close, read this Brainpickings.org post: Chuck Close on Creativity, Work Ethic, and Problem-Solving vs. Problem-Creating by Maria Popova
In my most recent broadcast on email marketing for artists with my co-presenter, Jason Horejs, I mentioned the importance of just starting. There is never the best time to start. If you wait for the perfect situation, your competitors will eat your lunch as you languish in the starting gate.
How often has a friend told you they had the same idea as some successful inventor? I never doubt them. That was their muse, their shower-induced alpha waves feeding them creative ideas. But, since they didn’t act on it, the opportunity toj capitalize on their idea was squandered. Most likely, they lacked the skills to make a bright idea into a reality.
It is equally likely that they lacked the entrepreneurial spirit to jump in and start swimming. There is no shame if this describes you. That just puts you in the masses who also pass when opportunity knocks. Whatever the case, you never have to accept things as they are. Neither do you have to let difficulties set you back. Chuck Close is again here proof positive you can overcome major obstacles and achieve things beyond your imagination.
I am assuming you are likely reading this blog because you believe you have the talent to create art that others will want to buy and collect. I salute you for that vision. I implore you to combine your imagination and your talent to an ambitious work ethic.
The great thing about entrepreneurial endeavors is you can choose to launch when your muse strikes. Or, you can choose to emulate Chuck Close. He gets his inspiration from showing up and putting time in at the easel.
Just start doing. Do not be afraid to try new things, to adjust your plan. Your first ideas might not work. If you are making art now and it is getting eyeballs and exposure to the right buyers, but you are not getting sales, it may be time to change what you are doing.
There is a Chinese proverb, “When business is bad paint the counter.”
Go ahead and mix it up. Conversely, when you find something that is working, then mine that vein for all it worth. Learn to use your muse to continue mining that vein, but your unique evolving creative flair. If you try, you will find countless ways to make a signature style that is ever changing, but still recognizable as from your hand.