If we know anything about Vincent Van Gogh’s personal life, we know that during his lifetime, not one person loved his paintings. Not one. Imagine how depressing that would be. All of your life, you’re treated like a fool for doing that thing you can’t not do. Thankfully, most of us won’t have that problem, but this whole scenario has got me thinking. How in the world did Van Gogh continue to be creative in the face of something so depressing? That act of defiance on his part makes me genuinely respect him. And I want that attitude.

As a Marketing Major, in my mind, creativity should transfer to money. Which means that I should create something with the express purpose of someone else liking it. This, of course, is not in and of itself bad. But if my only thought when I sit down to write a song is, Could this sell?, then I have some problems (mind you, I still haven’t sold one of my songs, I haven’t even really tried yet). My favorite social media platform is Instagram because it brings together creative people in a unique way, but if I’m searching for affirmation in the amount of likes I get on my photos, then I’m not posting anything just to be creative, I’m posting it for popularity (or something).

via Pinterest

There’s an element to, let’s call it, “caring” that we need to grasp. I really don’t think even Van Gogh “didn’t care” what his paintings looked like. That’s not my point. Daily, we should strive to grow ourselves in every endeavor, whether that be creative or otherwise. But, I’ve heard it said that if you’re not terrified, you’re not being creative enough. My dad (who is an animator) likes to tell me that whenever he’s freaking out that he’ll lose his job, he knows that he’s just been creative above and beyond what the directors and producers have asked (usually they love what he’s just finished). So the moral of the story is, we need to push ourselves to get outside our warm little comfortable bubble and never be afraid to create something that we’ve never seen before.

So I’ve heard that everywhere, honestly. Get outside your comfort zone. Or that awesome picture that says, “Where the magic happens,” in the outside space surrounding the “Comfort zone.” But how to grasp that? Well, it’s definitely not just about not caring what anyone else thinks (although that is an element). It’s obviously not about making money (although, if it’s your career, don’t jeopardize it, please). But, look for the signs that you’re being creative: you’re scared out of your mind, you’re looking around to see if anyone else saw that, yet you love what you’ve done, and deep down, you really don’t care if anyone else does too.

As a marketer, it’s obviously my job to care what everyone else thinks. BUT, as an artist, my goal is to, at least three times a week, sit down and be creative>> so creative that I’m terrified, but also so creative that I would stand behind my work 100%. All of the other times I’m creative, I can care about whether something will sell; but at least three times a week, I’m going to be like Vincent Van Gogh, and do something so out there that it might make the world uncomfortable with me.

Would you join me?

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