December is a time for Top 10 lists and best-of-the-year lists, either because the year is ending and it’s a good time to look back over the previous 12 months, or more likely it’s a marketing tool designed to sell things. (I suppose everything is in our capitalist society though.) While I am not ready to write my “Top 5 Books on Creativity” list yet because I still have so many yet to read, I just heard about a book published in 2019 that I thought was worth mentioning. I was listening yesterday to Lisa Congdon speaking on The Good Life Project podcast as she was wrapping up the book tour for her book. Her book is entitled “Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic” and though I haven’t read it yet, I found myself nodding and saying “yep!” as she talked about artistic style, what it means to find your voice, and the process to get there.
I particularly appreciated that she disagreed with the notion that artistic style = artistic voice. In fact, she’s the first person I have heard make a distinction between the two. As someone who is interested in a lot of different techniques and who makes work in different styles, it was comforting to hear that not only is that totally okay, but that there are well-known, successful artists for whom the same is true. I’d felt that, though I’ve made great strides toward finding my voice, I wouldn’t really achieve that goal until I produced work in a style that was so distinctly my own that it was recognizable. Though I thought that was the goal I was trying to achieve, it was not really a point I wanted to reach because the idea of producing work only in one style seemed so boring to me. I like doing different things. I want to keep experimenting with different techniques. That’s what makes this work fun to me. So, I may never produce a consistent body of work that all looks the same and I’m glad to know that there is nothing wrong with that. What is consistent throughout all of my work is my voice, the story that I am telling through each piece I create, the story that is uniquely mine to tell. I have plenty to say and I will continue to use whatever technique I need in order to get my point across. It’s nice to know that there’s nothing wrong with that.
This holiday season, if you don’t want to add another book to your wish list, perhaps you will give yourself the gift of grace. Make the work you want to make even if the styles are all over the map. You have a story to tell through your work that only you can tell. That is your voice and the world needs to hear it.
Want this content sent directly to your inbox each month, along with exclusive creativity prompts and news from my studio? Sign up for the Creative Play™ Newsletter here.