for creativity’s sake

Creative Projects

When you become at least moderately successful in a creative profession, it’s easy to let all “non-professional” endeavors fall by the wayside. A professional actress may not feel the need to act in something just for the experience, when they have years or decades of experience. While I understand this mindset, I try to guard against it as then you only do projects that have an obvious and often immediate return. Some of the most rewarding projects I’ve done (both financially and creatively) have been things that didn’t have immediate value and were often divergent from my work at the time, but were things I personally wanted to pursue.

The other important aspect is that people generally pay you to do more of the same. In other words, a beauty photographer generally gets paid to shoot beauty. Convincing someone that you have a great eye for gritty sports reportage requires stepping outside of your normal box to prove it. If you’re an actress who does great romantic comedies, you face an uphill battle convincing directors and producers to cast you as the lead in a dramatic piece. This is where “personal” projects are most valuable.

You are constantly refining your vision, and proving your abilities. When you no longer feel the need to do either, you are no longer creating…you are reproducing.

The musician Beck has an ongoing project called Record Club. They get a bunch of musicians together and record a cover of an entire album in one day, then release the tracks one by one online. I like some, I find others interesting exercises that you’d have to pay me to endure. Nonetheless, I love talented and professional people collaborating on a project for the enjoyment of the medium. It doesn’t happen very often, but there are many wonderful examples throughout history of the confluence of creative people.

So enjoy Record Club while you can. And to clarify, I’m not saying that “personal” work always means “unpaid” work, just that I try to constantly create for creativity’s sake. I think it not only makes your work more creative, in the long run it will make it more fulfilling…financially and otherwise.