What does it mean to live an art-full life? I believe that to live artfully is to live intentionally, to strike a balance between creativity and functionality. The choices we make about our environment, our practices and our personas are intimately tied to our material culture. The way we feel in our social circles, our homes and our skins is both expressed THROUGH and influenced BY dialogues between our visual objects and our psyches, an incredibly rich & nuanced conversation of symbols and aesthetics.
So the question arises: how to make those choices? The question “How to live a good life?” becomes a lifelong creative project: “How to create what is both true and functional?” How to live your life artfully?
Let’s look at four ways for creativity, expression and function to strike a resounding chord.
Our clothing choices are about much more than just trends or utility. They’re a second skin that we get to choose every morning, a chance to reinvent ourselves day by day through colour, shape, theme; what we choose to cover or reveal; what social microcosms we reference and reflect – honestly, I could write a whole other post about the language of dress.
My point is this: when we choose what to put on our backs, we’re making a choice about which version of us we’re presenting AND inhabiting that day. That’s why favourite clothes are as potent as they are: they’re a symbol of something we value, integrated with the self, worn intimately as a chosen skin.
Before getting dressed, try taking a moment to set an intention for the day, and then choose an outfit that feels aligned to it. This choice will quietly remind you of your intention and support it for the rest of the day, in a way that’s entirely yours.
It matters where your eye lands.
It matters what’s in your field of vision: greenery or asphalt, order or clutter, an empty space or a full one. It matters because our minds are constantly running thought processes that we’re barely conscious of, if we’re even aware of them at all, and those processes interact with our sensual experiences. There’s a reason so many of us get moody in the dark days of winter, and why a walk in the woods leaves us feeling refreshed.
One way to channel this tendency: arrange a few vignettes around your home or office, especially in spots where you’re likely to see them through the day. Give some attention to the overall shapes and colour combinations, and think about what the components mean to you personally. Essentially, you’re creating strategic art moments in your space.
It’s powerful to have something you can control, however small. Even more so when you don’t have control over very much.
For example: as kids return to school this autumn, they’re facing a whole new rhythm and set of demands, different from what they’re used to, with the added challenge of talking through masks and trying to stay 2m away from their friends.
Small touches like personalized locker decor go a long way to helping your kids feel at home in a new environment. And when they can’t share their hugs with their friends, they can at least share their tastes.
Humans are tellers of stories: we write, we dance, we ululate. We leave our marks on cave walls and box cars. We express outward and explore inward using creative media: early mornings with a journal, late nights with whiskey and paint. Days of posting, photographing, commenting and calling. We are creatures of expression.
Making marks and telling stories takes us to the highest peaks of our skill and down into the most primal valleys of urgent, impulsive release. We rage. We revise. We see, hear, respond to the cacophony of our senses and what others have said, enter into an ecosystem of artistic endeavour. We join the dance.
At the end of the day, the most visceral way to live a life full of art is to make art.
We are artists from the moment we are born, and we never cease to be. We may mute our voices, but those voices never disappear, not entirely. Living art-fully, living well, requires that you heed that voice, and guide it.
Make your marks.