In the truest sense of the word, genuine happiness is an unattainable ideal. It is, like love, infinitely indefinable and as fleeting and fluid as knowledge. Although we seek that which we cannot grasp in our day-to-day existence, emotional happiness comes naturally to those who least expect it, in moments when we are very much unprepared and at times when we are truly open. In other words, when we are at play.
At the 10th edition of CreativeMornings Utrecht (1 February 2013), illustrator and graphic designer Victor van Gaasbeek shared what he believes is the ideal path to happiness, declaring that a happy creative is in fact, a better one. Best known for his Sliced Pixel Project, this young gun never misses an opportunity to learn something new. As part of a unified lecture format for the first half 2013, his talk centered on a global theme, preselected by the six original CreativeMornings chapters. For the month of January, happiness was the motif of choice.
It is generally assumed that most creatives are in high spirits. Instead of having to face the beleaguering humdrum of the daily grind, these individuals have skillfully managed to turn (at least) one of their hobbies into an actual profession. Utopian though this may seem, it is an occupation nonetheless, meaning the majority of creatives are often at the mercy of clients. “When you do something you love for money, it doesn’t quite work out the way you want it,” says Van Gaasbeek. The client’s preferences always come first, sparing little room for artistic freedom. In order to put an end to this frustration, the designer is convinced that creatives should engage in self-initiated work: “doing the things you love, exactly what you want, when you want.”
Compared to client-driven projects, Van Gaasbeek maintains that self-initiated work should be of equal, if not greater importance. Since experimentation, failure and learning are the cornerstones of creative development, endeavors such as these serve as platforms for perfecting your skills and paths to self-discovery. Ultimately, they allow you to find your creative self, what your strengths are and where your artistic preferences lie. Above all, they are deliberate initiatives to have fun.
Be that as it may, the aim of any self-initiated undertaking must never be compensation. “Money isn’t the goal,” insists Van Gaasbeek, declaring that self-initiated work is all about happiness. Each task is a labor of love, driven by a desire to better oneself creatively, while making mistakes and learning new things in the process. True enough, creativity has its own rewards, if you are willing to put in the hours –a fact creatives claim to have little or no time for.
“If the project is fun enough, I’ll find time,” Van Gaasbeek says. The key is having a vested interest in a particular medium or subject matter, elevating the work into an individual cause. Collaboration is also a clever means to get things going as self-motivation is frequently lacking, especially when clients are breathing down your neck. “‘I don’t have time’ is a lame excuse,” according to the designer, affirming that any engagement in a self-initiated undertaking is time well spent.
Indeed, it is when we are most uninhibited that we experience joy, simply because we can be ourselves. While the creative profession implies taking on certain responsibilities, creativity should not be limited to working 9-to-5. Rather, it is an integral part of everyday life, both at work and at play. Though we are blessed with the gift of creativity, being creative is a personal choice that must be put into action. For what is creativity if we do not create? ✌
☞ For more information on Victor van Gaasbeek, the Sliced Pixel Project, CreativeMornings Utrecht and CreativeMornings™, visit the websites listed below: