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Big OOPS Turns Into Good Idea: Mistakes and Making Art

January 9, 2011

“Big OOPS turns into good idea.”

One of the things about blogging is that, as with art, inspiration comes from many places. The phrase above was actually the subject line of a post on a wedding planning forum. The poster messed up on her invitations and in the process of fixing the mistake, found a solution that was even better than the original idea.

This sentiment can be applied to your art practice  as well!

Mistakes are not bad things. Mistakes do not mean you’re a bad artist. Mistakes do not mean you don’t know what you’re doing. Mistakes do not equal failure.

We have been programmed to see mistakes as negatives, indications of personal shortcomings and failures. In terms of art, this could not be farther from the truth. Mistakes are an indication of freedom, experimentation, play, and confidence. They are the result of doing something new and unexpected.

When you add this unpredictable dynamic to your art process is when exciting things start happening!

What would happen if you never tried something new or took a risk with your art? You would do the same thing over and over. Giving yourself permission to make mistakes liberates you from this kind of stagnation. Mistakes are the kick-start to creativity. They are what get your brain working on a problem and how to fix it. Have you ever seen the words “creative problem solving” on a resume? The key word here is problem. Without the problem, you don’t get the creative solution!

It really comes down to confidence. You need to have the confidence in yourself that when you do make a mistake, you will have the tools and ability to fix it. This kind of confidence doesn’t come from playing it safe; it comes from playing around and experimenting.

Making mistakes is essential to a dynamic and productive art practice. Go out today and try something new, something a little bit scary. It’s okay to screw up!


From → Art General

  1. JoAnn Turner permalink

    Years ago another artist told me “the only difference between amateurs and professionals is that professionals know how to hide their mistakes.” Exactly as your article points out. Excellent points to make!

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