Herding Fish

coaching for artists and makers

Knowing yourself, how you lean into your own process and how you get yourself out of (creative) trouble builds confidence and keeps you buoyant even when things don’t seem to be going to plan. It takes effort to keep showing up for all the different stages and demands that creative practice requires. But a lot of maker support focuses on production and dissemination without considering all the other stuff that has to be done before we can get to the making/doing/writing in the first place.

In Handiwork (Tramp Press, 2020), Sara Baume talks about ‘phases devoted to nothing greater than the general preservation of my body and perpetuation of its functions.’ She continues: ‘Every day is a day-long crusade to correct this imbalance between productivity and drudgery, stimulation and stagnation – crusades further complicated by the tendency phases have to bleed, for there are different stages of making…Most of the time spent making is spent, in fact, in the approach.’

That acknowledgement of the time spent approaching the making feels like a big relief, doesn’t it?

Of course, even when we’ve got ourselves into the work, things don’t always go to plan. Warren Martin @WMhandmade posted on Instagram recently:

The true skill in any craft is knowing how to get out of a problematic situation. The problems themselves can’t always be avoided, we all have off days, lapses of concentration, a run of bad luck, it’s what we call “human error”. Experts do not magically avoid human error, they overcome it. You will learn more from your mistakes than doing things perfectly first time, it’s having the heart and courage to continue which counts.

And sometimes the places where things seem to be going wrong are where the magic is. In a recent Design Edit interview James Russell of design duo James Plumb commented:

We love to be connected to the materials and processes ourselves and in the accidents and the mistakes you find gems. Whereas if you had just handed a drawing over to a fabricator, you would miss that opportunity to say “Oh no, that’s really beautiful and interesting”

As a coach, I support clients to explore who they are as the human at the heart of their practice and how their shifting energies and rhythms play out. When we’re able to lean into our own process, it builds trust, and that self-reliance is what gets us through times of turbulence and hopefully produces something both beautiful and interesting.