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Do You Ever Ask Yourself ‘Why Do I Create’?

by Hanna Brooks Olsen
creativity

If you’re a working artist, you probably take photos or make things or draw things or write words for the same reason most people put on a tie and go into the office: To pay the bills. But what happened before that? Why did you pick up a camera or a pen? And if you’re not making money on your art (at least not yet), that question is even bigger: Why create at all?

Award-winning director and video producer Andy Newman‘s latest project, “Why We Create,” asks artists exactly that question. In the face of financial hardship (the “starving artist” trope is a trope for a reason), creative difficulty (haven’t we all felt like literally everything has already been done and made?), and the impossible chore of making time for friends, family, work, and creative pursuits, there has to be something. Something that makes you do what you do, regardless of the challenges.

For some, it’s the desire (and maybe need?) to constantly improve and learn more about a craft that’s the driving factor.

“It’s kind of hard to explain to someone that’s a business-minded person,” explains photographer Nick Fancher, who says most of the work he displays publicly isn’t his paid work. “On paper, it’s like, ‘oh, you’re just shooting for free.’ And it’s like ‘well, yeah…Not really. Because it’s all a means to an end…I get more polished.”

For others, it’s because creative endeavors are what make them feel most satisfied, both in actually making the things they make, and in the way it influences the rest of their life.

“It’s fun to be able to go outside whenever you want and to take time for whatever you need to do,” Allie Lehman, who co-owns creative firm The Wonder Jam with husband, Adam. “That was the hardest part about having an office job was that I couldn’t open my windows.”

Whatever the answer, though, asking yourself why you create things is a healthy exercise in and of itself — which is maybe why Andy started the project in the first place. Because even asking “why am I doing this?” can remind you how much you love the work, and how great it is to be able to pursue it at all.

“The instant we forget how sort of ridiculously fortunate we are that we get to live in a time that we get to do this stuff, then you get no fun to be around,” Adam says.

So we were wondering: Why do you create?

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Hanna Brooks Olsen

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.