Is Functional Art Harder Than Creative?


To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it. ― Osho

I recently went to a pottery class at the Gardiner Museum.

It is one of those drop-in classes that they run on certain days of the week. Considering my commitment issues these days, a drop-in class seems exactly right. I walked in on that Sunday afternoon feeling apprehensive. That feeling of fear/doubt/anxiety that is so common when you are embarking upon a new endeavour – especially one that is creative, and can be judged by others.

Why this pottery class?

It wasn’t just for the drop-in aspect which was appealing.

For the past few weeks, I have had this great desire to ground myself in the Earth – considering it is cold outside, I can’t really use the solid Earth.

I also had this desire to get my hands dirty with some Earth. I decided that a pottery class with some malleable clay would be just the ticket.

I wanted to sit in my little corner with my clay and just mould it in a variety of shapes.

Without interruptions or judgement or conversation.

That is what I did.

I moulded it into a face, a bowl, something abstract, and then I put it all into the garbage pile, not interested in putting it in some unseen corner of my condo.

I was sitting there creating my last piece – the abstract one, when one of the teachers of the class came to sit down and chat with the lady who was sitting next to me.

The lady who was sitting next to me was very anxious.

She spent the whole class waiting for something – I believe her piece needed to dry in order for her to put more work into it. Instead of beginning another piece, or doing something else, she decided to sit and touch her piece every few minutes to check its dryness level. That’s what she did for the majority of the two hour class.

Until this conversation with the teacher.

The gist of their conversation was this – It is harder to create functional pieces of pottery/art, rather than pieces that are abstract or creative or have no real purpose except beauty. I wanted to write this post as a diatribe towards the particular statement.

I don’t think either piece is harder or easier than the other.

Creation in general is a stressful endeavour.

The artist is pouring a part of themselves into the creative process – they are using their experiences, their own melodramas, their sweat/blood/tears, their frustrations, everything into the piece (whatever it might be – a piece of writing, art, a video). It is hard to put so much of yourself into something, and then await criticism which will inevitably find its way back to you.

Every single time, I write a post and publish it, I still feel that little niggle of a doubt.

What will people think? How will they take this new piece of writing? Will they hate it? Will they like it? Can I just stop writing, so I don’t have to deal with this?

And I’m not even a really well-known writer. Just a small-time blogger in this big-time blogosphere. I still have doubts.

It’s because of the process of creation.

It is as if you take a huge piece of your heart, mould it in some way into a piece of art or a blog post, and then place it in front of the whole world. Everyone can see your deepest fears, your highest ambitions and your nastiest demons. You are exposed completely to the world, and there’s nothing you can do to hide. It is akin to that dream in which you are naked in the subway station – over-exposed, naked, and scared.

Even though the process is so scary, it is also extremely gratifying.

I will go weeks without hearing from any of my readers. But then one of my readers will send me a message about how one of my posts changed something in them, or made them do something major, and it just fills my heart with joy – the kind of joy that wants me to go dance in the streets naked.

That’s why I implore everyone to go out and create – it doesn’t matter if you are creating something functional or creative. The more important thing is to create something that takes a piece of your heart and exposes you in that scary way.

Isn’t that the only way to live – exposed, alive, and true?

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