Three Keys to Help You Achieve Excellence in Your Creative Work
You lay down your paintbrush, save your computer file, or finish bouncing out your mastered audio track, and think, “It’s done.” But how do you know whether your work will touch people so that they remember it and want to share it? What can we learn from the success of musical pioneers like Prince, timeless authors like Shakespeare, or ground-breaking artists like Picasso? Since my artistic energy has been singularly focused for the past few years in creating the content for GEM (Global Education for MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary), I have been looking into what lasting works of art have in common.
Though I have been a lifelong musician with conservatory training, I graduated from the highly competitive co-op program at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Canada and worked in notable architecture firms around the world. Even now that I have chosen to follow my soul call to music, in many ways, I still think like an architect. It is near instinct in my work as CEO and Creative Director of Parvati.org and as I produce the creative content for GEM that includes this magazine, and my songwriting, music arranging and engineering, book writing, costume design and creation, and show and video production and direction. All of this has taught me that at the heart of artistic works that last are these three keys: creativity, technique and culture.
Creativity is perhaps the best recognized of the three. There is no doubt that creative spark is essential in capturing the attention of our audience. But I have learned through experience that raw talent can only take us so far as artists. We need the second key, technical skill. At a certain point in your creative process, you come to appreciate how clarity in technique supports and frees your soulful expression.
While Pablo Picasso was hailed as a brilliant abstract artist, he said, “There is no abstraction in art. You must start with something. Afterwards you can remove all traces of reality.” His abstractions, which seemed to transcend structure, actually relied deeply on his sophisticated understanding of form. He had mastered traditional techniques so that he could make informed choices about how to depart from them.
In order to create buildings that seem poetic, you need to work with the laws of gravity and the inherent nature of the building materials. In music, if you aspire to compose string arrangements with rich and inspiring harmonies, it helps to know musical theory. To produce interesting urban or electronic dance beats, you benefit by understanding at least the fundamentals of rhythmic structure. Prince, with his astounding range of musical production and performance mastery, is a perfect example of the power achieved when technical skill meets creativity.
I was brought face to face with the gap between my creative potential and technical skills when I was a teenager. Based on innate musicality, I reached the Royal Conservatory of Music ARCT performer and teacher level after just a few short years of piano study. But before I could move forward, I was told to take a year to exclusively practice scales to strengthen my technique. The idea then felt like death to my creative zest. But I now greatly appreciate my time spent playing scales and studying composition. They inform the sounds I sculpt today, such as the lush orchestration and heart-stirring harmonies in my upcoming single “Ocean Anthem”.
Then there is the third key. We need to know the context to which we offer our art. Though many art forms are birthed in isolation, we are always part of a bigger cultural conversation. GEM is very much about this, serving to melt the hearts of the world and inspiring action to safeguard our precious Arctic Ocean and thereby all life.
William Shakespeare understood the power of art in cultural conversation. His plays are still immensely popular, over 400 years after they were written. Connecting with his audience’s favourite stories and preoccupations allowed him to speak to timeless aspects of the human condition. He then added his own creative spark and technical skills and became a hallmark of English literature. As I have been developing books for GEM, I have been considering not only the techniques of successful fiction and self-help writing, but the world into which my books will be launched.
Continual learning is part of the fun of being in any creative field. As we embrace the three keys of creativity, technology and culture, we can share our artistic voices with the world more fully than ever.
Parvati is an award-winning musician (“I Am Light”, “Electro Yog”, “Yoga In The Nightclub”), yogini (YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine), author (“The Grace Mindset”, “Aonani of Avalon”, “The Three Supreme Secrets for Lasting Happiness”) and founder and CEO of the nonprofit Parvati.org. All her work is dedicated to protecting all life on Earth by establishing the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS). More info: parvati.tv; parvati.org.