My old friend Joseph from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada and I used to go to high school together. I was always shocked at his accomplishments as a youth, and he was the most creative kid in our classes. But after graduation, after him spieling on about how he would become not only the world’s most successful author but a painter and poet, he surprised everyone, or shall I say disappointed everyone, by becoming an appliance repair mechanic.
My other friends from high school were even more shocked than I was, because I knew it took motivation to create art and although Joseph was very talented and artistic I knew he wasn’t the most determined or diligent. After high school he followed his father’s trade and got the first job he could get. I went on to Art History in college while he was fixing refrigerators and ovens for family kitchens. Of course there’s nobility in providing quality services for domestic homes, but deep down I knew Joseph had the talent to become a great artist if only he could find the right motivation besides fame and money.
Like I said before, if you want paintings you should paint them yourself! But when I visited Joseph’s home several years ago every single painting on his wall was, well, from a thrift store and he hadn’t picked up a paint brush since graduation, let alone attempted to write a story. We didn’t talk much about it, but I knew he wanted to. He had a sadness behind his eyes that shouted, “I NEED TO CREATE! I’m tired of repairing major appliances for people in Kelowna. I want to move to Paris and make masterpieces with my mind!”
Also, I think he was jealous of me because I have less talent than him but I still keep motivated enough to follow my dream and use my creativity to create art. Short story long, Joseph called me a few days after our visit and right away I could hear the depression in his voice. He broke out in tears over the phone and said he had repaired his last appliance. Over the years he had repaired thousands of refrigerators, thousands of ovens, thousands of washers and dryers, was familiar with all brand names like Kenmore and Maytag, had seen the ins and outs of everything from a Hotpoint freezer to a Panasonic microwave–overall had been doing appliance repair Kelowna BC services for nearly two decades!–but he had quit his job. His heart was begging him to quit and follow his passion. But when it came down to making actual art on his first day of unemployment, he froze. He didn’t know what to do, and he had called me for help.
I knew there’s no way I could give my motivation to him. It doesn’t work that way, but I did tell him three things.
3 Secrets to Creativity
- Have a mentor. Have a role model, another artist to look up to. Without inspiration from someone you respect, without influence from a style you adore, how can you even know creating art is possible? If you take a newborn baby and put him in a world where no one creates art, how will the baby grow up to know creating art is even a thing someone can do for a living? I told Joseph to find inspiration by choosing who his favorite artist his. He never had a favorite artist before, but I told him once he chose his favorite artist he should study them daily. Motivation comes from seeing that great art is possible, and even a regular guy from a regular city like Kelowna BC can make great art if only he can learn from an expert who’s already done what he wants to do.
- Build a habit out of creating. If you’ve never created much, then of course it’s going to feel strange or even difficult to sit down and create something new that this world has never seen before. You need to let your subconscious mind know that you are a creator by building the habit of creating, and the only way to build a new habit is by repetition and getting rid of an old habit. Joseph had already gotten rid of an old habit–repairing appliances for a Kelowna company–and now he was trying to replace that habit with staring at the wall and crying on the phone. He admitted that before he called me he had called everyone else from high school and none of them knew what to say. I told him that he needed to slap himself across the face and stop being so pathetic. I told him he has all the talent in the world to become a great artist, if only he could man up, pick up that pen, pick up that paint brush and create something. Even if he didn’t like what he first created, he would build the habit of creating and let himself know that it’s possible.
- Develop your own style that you’re proud of. After completing steps one and two, the third step is to master your craft by becoming your own unique artist. At first, while following the influence of your mentor, your art might seem very similar to their’s, but after a while of building the habit of creating every week, you’ll start to break off that influence and find that there’s a few things you’d rather do differently. Maybe the tone, mood, vibe or some minor details that your mentor gave you may stick around, but the overall style is yours. And the best part is that once your style is yours and yours alone you can really stand out as an artist, for no one else in the world has that particular style. Each one of us is different, and after a while of following our passion our art will too become different. I told Joseph all this and concluded by saying that he should choose a mentor, he should build a habit, and while he’s doing that he should frequently close his eyes and dream of what his own style will be. This is the goal developing artists can look forward to for that motivation to keep growing. I said, “Joseph, if you can only put your head down and continue to grow, one day there’ll be no other artist in the world like you, and your art will be completely unique and then one day a young artist will choose you as his or her mentor.”
So What Happened to our Appliance Mechanic?
Joseph not only loved the advice I gave him, he followed it to a T-square. These events I described were a little less than a month ago, and since then Joseph had not only written his first short story, he got it published in a local journal and painted three paintings as well. Now he’s working on a book about an appliance mechanic who decided to follow his dream and found true happiness. I think we all know where the inspiration for that book came from. I decided to share this story after Joseph called me last night, and he sounded like the happiest man in the world! the sound of his voice brought a tear to my eye. He had done it! And you can, too!