In my last photo journal I talked about how I believed that the business side of creating has distracted people from possibly creating to their full potential. While I believe marketing and consistency is important as an artist, I also believe that in order to grow one needs to explore and change as the need arises.

Business Before Process?

When I first began a blog I focused on branding 100%. I created a consistent look that brought me followers, but after a while I realized it wasn’t what I really wanted to try. It became clear that I had a choice to either stay put and grow, or experiment and grow slowly.

I chose to experiment. At first it was only varying filters and playing with edits, but it gradually changed to a collage style that began to bring me growth again.

And then I switched accounts and left it. Why? Because I knew it still wasn’t what I wanted. I recognized that the collage was something I wanted to utilize more, but that the format wasn’t quite developed in a way that would allow me to grow. Top it off with learning to edit raw images and I chose to focus on developing my photography before I attempted a collage style again.

Fast forward to now. Have you noticed how my images have started to take on collage and frame elements, just like I created on my old account? It isn’t an accident. I gave up the style was because it didn’t give me wiggle room to post freely. It required planning ahead, but I wanted to find a way to make it more flexible. I decided to bring those elements back into my work when it seemed like it would fit.

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The Other Way Around

A couple of months ago I felt comfortable enough editing my images to begin branching into Photoshop again. I learned to edit images originally in Photoshop, but I found that Lightroom was also an important tool in my process. It began with adding grains, then frames, and later collages, and is developing incredibly fast.

At first I created too fast. I used my old collage style, but stopped myself from using the images. When you create, you can try and try again, but inevitably you have to ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong?” or else repeat the same patterns of failure. Because I already went through a process of creating and ‘failure’ with a collage style, I approached my work differently and avoided the pitfalls.

My work is still in process. I’ll mess up, and there will be plenty of changes ahead, but I’ve got direction, and I’m willing to go slow. I have a few questions ahead of me, mostly related to how images accompany what I write. I’m willing to mess up, because it brings me to something more unique—something more of my voice in the creative sphere.

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What’s Picasso got to do with it?

At this point you’re probably wondering, “That’s nice Mary, but what does this have to do with Picasso?”

Everything.

Because Instagram (for better or worse) is so involved in the lives of ordinary people and occupational creators alike, I think it has hijacked some of our perspectives on creativity. The images we share can be curated, collected, and presented as a nice little 3 space grid. Just by the nature of Instagram’s design, the more consistent the image styling and editing, the more cohesive your work looks.

This can be wonderful as a challenge and to showcase a very specific look…but I often worry that people don’t change or experiment enough for fear of losing followers. As a result, they never diverge into their curiosities, or try what they might have set their heart on. While the digital age has expanded creativity in so many ways, I can’t help but wonder some of the might-have-beens that are happening because of algorithms, designs, and marketing philosophies.

Now enter Picasso. I think that most people will know of the painter Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (imagine putting that name on your spelling tests). You might have seen a piece of his at a museum or learned about him in school. I encourage you to visit this page on him and scroll down to see some of his featured works.

He helped make the way for an art movement called Cubism, and also set in motion the surrealist art movement. If you look at the famous works you can probably tell they were all done by the same guy.

But what happens if we look at Picasso’s works in chronological order, from his earliest days to the end of his career?

Click here to see a timeline of all of Picasso’s paintings. (I will warn that he went through a phase of some particularly sexually explicit drawings, so bear that in mind.)

Even if you only look at the first ten paintings or so you will immediately notice the contrast between that and his later (and most famous) works. In fact, it takes several years before we begin to clearly observe the very iconic traits of Picasso. But even though that Picasso flare is evident, his work isn’t the same. He varies from identifiable images to heavily fractured scenes, to paintings that rather remind me of collages.

If these were fitted into Instagram today, how would it flow? Some parts would be consistent. Others would have people wondering just what Picasso was thinking (not that people don’t wonder that anyway). Regardless, Picasso’s style was unique, but he couldn’t have gotten there without the experimentation and the ability to break the mold.

If these were fitted into Instagram today, how would it flow? Some parts would be consistent. Others would have people wondering just what Picasso was thinking (not that people don’t wonder that anyway). Regardless, Picasso’s style was unique, but he couldn’t have gotten there without the experimentation and the ability to break the mold.

Break the Mold

Is everyone stuck in the Instagram mold? No! Scroll through various accounts and you will find plenty of people who have developed their own flavor and voice. Tezza is a great example of someone whose feed had great pictures, but had a very (what I consider) ‘typical’ Instagram before she pushed herself. Now she has become iconic. Even Courtney of Color Me Courtney, though her colors and “branding” remains consistent, seems to always have fresh styling ideas and creative images that are only getting better.

But these can feel like exceptions at times. There are many individuals I see who seem to have fallen into the cohesive trap. They have remarkable voices, and I can see unique elements come out in their work. Unfortunately, many seem to stick to that format, rather than branching out into where their work is leaning.

For some people, building a consistent brand image is important, and for what they are creating, it works for them. This isn’t a post for those people. This is a post for the people who want to try something new but are too afraid to take the leap. Who want to try something no one has done before, yet they’re sure they’ll fail.

If that’s you, today I’m encouraging you to break the mold. Try something new. Post something different. Ignore the numbers. Dream a little. Write out your idea creations in a notebook somewhere. Ask yourself what is keeping you from it? Make a plan, and even if you have to start in secret, start creating.

Humanity has been around quite a while, and we really have created many things, so I’m not saying you should strive to be original. What I am encouraging you to be, is to be you.

Learn to create in the way you were made to, and see where it takes you.

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