Becoming your most authentic creative self
Words and illustration by Zoe Broome
Authentic: of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.
What does it even mean to be authentic? It is a word that I hear a lot, especially when studying a creative subject at uni. We spend the whole three years trying to create something original, something new, trying to find our authentic creative voice. For me, I felt like I finally found my flow in the final weeks of third year (better late then never) and then it was over. Uni is done and now I’m a creative graduate still trying to develop my practice alongside full time work and I’ll tell you now, it is bloody hard.
Everyone is trying to be their authentic selves, striving to be genuine and true to oneself, but what does it even mean to be our authentic self?
I know I question myself on the daily on who I am as a creative. Where do I fit in this huge industry? I find myself comparing my work to others, thinking about the outcomes rather then the process, wondering how they got that opportunity and why I’m not making work like that. With social media being such an ingrained part of our day to day, it is so easy to find yourself going into a dark downward spiral of negative comparison and jealousy.
I find myself looking at all these wonderful creatives and wondering why I’m not as successful; seeing their beautifully curated Instagram profiles full of work, wondering why I’m not creating as much, why I haven’t got as many followers. I’m wanting to be more, to create fabulous artwork all the time and be so much more productive and better than I am now.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I think it is great to strive for self improvement, to want to be better educated, to grow and learn. But maybe, just maybe, I’m not fulfilling my authentic self by always trying be better and by trying to be someone else. Maybe it’s rather the person that I am, right this second, who is good enough. I am my authentic self by just being me.
To me being authentic isn’t just the good stuff, but it is the bad stuff too. All the messy mistakes we make, make us the person that we are now. If we hadn’t tried that drawing style or decided to give painting a go, we would never have learnt that we are capable of the thing we thought we couldn’t do (and that we still hate painting… I’m working on it). It is refreshing to see people start to talk about authenticity on Instagram, admitting to struggling with creativity and admiring their mistakes, and letting us in behind the glossy walls Instagram builds up.
I’m trying to teach myself this in regards to my practice — but also outside of that I’m trying to tell myself that I do not need to be the finished article. I do not need to be this pristine creative who just happens to do a quick squiggle sketch and it is this amazing final outcome. NO NO NO, that is not genuine! For goodness sake I’ve still got a whole lot of life ahead of me, I don’t want to be the ‘finished’ article now, or even when I’m 83! It takes time and investment. Sometimes it takes 80,000 tries to make something, and through all the trials and tribulations it actually turns out to be even better than your original idea.
It is important to prove that creativity isn’t a shiny perfect thing we should aspire to constantly, because it isn’t! For me, true authenticity is in the mistakes; mistakes are how you learn and grow, that is where the magic happens, and that is where you find your authentic self.