The Importance of Crafting Your Creative Environment

Do you have a visible, environmental record of your accomplishments?

Just the other day my Lovely Bride and I watched The Vow (great movie, by the way), and one aspect of the story that stood out to me was the significance of Paige’s relationship with her studio. I won’t go into details, since that would spoil the plot, but suffice it to say, the environment and the works contained within Paige’s artistic studio played a pivotal role. 

And it really got me thinking: I’ve worked on a ton of projects over the years and have a large volume of creative output, yet because it is all encapsulated in various digital formats, I don’t have any physical evidence of my works. Wait, strike that — I do have a few canvas prints of professional photos I took in the last few years. But that is all. And it really bothers me. I’m a firm believer in the notion that you can’t get to where you’re going until you remember where you’ve been. Forget all that, and it becomes much harder to know who you really are. (Which, incidentally, is the major point of The Vow.) 

So I decided to change all that. Since I already have a home studio in 1/2 of our garage where my Mac Pro, guitars, and other musical equipment is set up, I’m starting there and beginning to rearrange and decorate everything so that I have obvious, physical proof of the major milestones in my career(s). I had CDs in boxes from my Distant Oaks days, as well as more recent productions, so those came out onto a bookshelf. I’m going to make a collage of some of my favorite websites and graphic designs and print that out to frame. I also have a couple of original works of art by my great-grandfather who was a successful architect in the Chicago area in his day (they are watercolors of buildings he designed), so those are going up as well. And so on. I want anyone to be able to walk into the studio and see right away what my creative life is all about. 

Artists in past times were less likely to fall into this scenario, but now with the ubiquity of digital media and the increased likelihood our artistic lives are being formatted in the medium of online technology, it’s easy to end up with everything you’ve done buried in folders on your computer or scattered across cloud services — out of sight, out of mind, forgotten. I only recently realized, as part of my ongoing effort to brand myself and set the stage for the future, how important is to me to grasp the timeline of what I’ve already done. 

Do you have a visible, environmental record of your accomplishments? Do you have a room or part of a room set up to display a tangible record of the important milestones of your career? If so, I commend you. If not, I highly recommend you join me in this exercise and start digging through your archives. I assure you, it will be well worth your while.

Jared White