How to Develop a Creative Voice

“I am always doing things I can’t do. That is how I get to do them.” -Pablo Picasso

No one becomes an expert overnight. And that is true when starting any new art or craft practise. Forget about being a brilliant, gifted painter or sculpture – developing a creative voice is about something else. It’s about centring your full attention on the process of making and using your hands to change materials into something from your mind. It is also about how you change through this process.

Over the few years I have been running my blog, I’ve developed confidence and knowledge in art making where I now consider myself a visual, mixed media artist. Through sharing my experiences, I feel able to give others advice and encouragement in their creative journeys.

I’ve always used art as a way of expressing myself. It was my favourite subject at school, but a bad experience while doing A-level art – where a teacher that told me I had no creative talent – crushed my confidence for a long time. I withdrew from that class and focused on my other subjects. I chose to study film at university and, while I continued to draw and paint, I don’t think I found the courage to really make anything substantial until my mid-20s.

Discovering the area of Art Therapy after my studies gave me a new insight in the way I approached art making. Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. I found something that resonated with me, a profound need to express myself visually, and gain fulfillment from using different materials to make things.

“Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him.” – Carl Jung

A new perspective lifted a huge pressure I’d imposed on myself. You are meant to make mistakes. You are meant to fuck up, get frustrated and confused and stuck. That is part of the learning process and that is how you change.

I allowed myself to make and try different things for the simple reason that it made me happy. And slowly I stopped trying to find validation from the outside. This was not easy. It takes time and patience, but once you can create from this place, your confidence and skills allow you to cultivate an authentic voice as an artist.

With this as my new outlook, I began to find meaning with broader interpretations of art; tattooing, graffiti, pop culture. Things considered underground or outsider art that I have naturally gravitated towards.

It takes time and focus to develop an intuitive artistic voice. The first point is making time for practice. Practicing is the best way to find your strengths, interests and your own way of working with materials. As you continue this you will gain confidence and feel a sense of control over your work.

You can never learn enough. Once you feel confident in a certain area, try something new and challenge yourself. Never stop pushing forward with new techniques, materials, perspectives. There are so many amazing and fascinating things in the world, experiences to engage with. Developing your own voice means finding ways of capturing how these different things make you think and feel. Making art is intuitive. Once you find your passion for something you know. It will become a reoccurring theme in your work.

Another part of discovering your creative identity is to make play central to art making. I often do this when I’m frustrated or bored with my artwork. The act of play is freeing – from your critical voice, from outside ideas of what constitutes art. Your art making should primarily be about engaging with your materials, enjoying the way the feel in your hands and making a mess!

Documenting my work through my blog has been a great way to reflect on everything I have done. Writing about the process, my inspirations and being able to look back allows me to see where I can improve my skills and abilities.