What Artists Can Teach Us About Work

Over the years, I’ve written about his studio before. It’s always been interesting to me that Roger Corman was famous for B-movies, and yet his studio was the training ground for many of the most impressive artists working in film.

Many that I know personally would always describe it as a place that fostered creativity by treating it like a job they simply wanted to do well. They focused on the work. And if we look at the success of that in another way, it means that non-artists can also look at their work, much like Corman taught people to think of film.

People may think that how artists approach their work is unique to art but, at our best, any career or enjoyable job means we are responding to a calling. And that’s what this is really about. It’s not about achieving, it’s about being. Because achieving takes place in a moment, but being forms our lives.

Good work is not about the appreciation, although that can feel great and it has enormous value. But for us inside, our work is an expression of our being, whether we are a computer programmer that likes logic and brevity, a craftsperson who likes patient, detailed work, or an artist trying to capture emotions with paint, or light.

In any pursuit, from art to business to romance, getting attached to an outcome is the enemy of flow. It has our minds pinned to some future that dictates our present. In reality we want to flow with the conditions of the moment, while paying attention to our internal sense of purpose, duty and value.

This video speaks to that idea very well and I was pleased to see that it aligned very nicely with the lessons I often shared with my film students over the years

One of the most important parts of the video is when he notes that, “If you want to have something you’ve never had before, you have to do something you’ve never done before.” Always remember that being out of your comfort zone may feel weird, but that feeling is the sensation that precedes growth.

Do not get caught up in what you want to happen, because the wanting implies our separateness from whatever it is. Focus less on the outcome and more on what action, in the moment we are in, is in line with the direction we are headed.

As is often the case, our thinking is what undoes us. Learning to control it, and tame it for our purposes, is the wisest use of our ability to think.

peace. s