Self-development Through the Creative Process


It can be tempting to focus on art or design as making a product, as a thing that gets made outside the self.

Maybe you make something. Then perhaps it’s sold, or given away, or possibly it never leaves your studio or office. Or maybe the thing you’ve created is part of a more extensive process within a business and it loops into a larger network.

There are benefits to not attaching too much meaning to objects and things we make. A sense of healthy detachment can allow balance and perspective.

But what if we don’t assign any meaning, or detach so much we no longer take responsibility for the things we are making and putting out into the world.

I’ve wondered about this as I’ve moved between the arts and technology over the past few years.

As I move deeper into my art practice, I feel the power that comes from co-creation. We are all part of making the world and the things we create become manifestations of how we believe the world should and can work.

In the process of making stuff, we are also exploring who we are, individually, and as a community. We are making things, but also making ourselves and our environments along the way.

Peter Korn the furniture making and founder of the Centre for Furniture Craftsmanship, a woodworking and design school in Rockport, Maine, wrote about his experience making things in his book, Why We Make Things and Why it Matters: The Education of a Craftsman.

In his introduction, Korn asks, ‘why do we choose the spiritually, emotionally, and physically demanding work of bringing new objects into the world with creativity and skill?’
‘We engage in the creative process to become more of whom we’d like to be and, just as important, to discover more of whom we might become. We may make things because we enjoy the process, but our underlying intent, inevitably, is self-transformation.’
— Peter Korn, Why We Make Things and Why it Matters: The Education of a Craftsman