Allow your art to surprise you

Let your art surprise you. So often it feels like we’re in a battle for new ideas and fresh takes on what we need to do.

Many times the answer is in the work. Do the work, and the work will help you find the next steps.

But there’s another thing we can try by letting the work actually do itself. It’s tricky to make this happen in every discipline, but it’s definitely possible with art and just another tool against perfectionism.

At first we think that the goal around creating things is to create something that is perfect, but that’s not the right starting point. The goal is not to create something that is perfect, but rather create something that is imperfect and then improve it.

If we have something as a base, as a starting point, not only can we get to that point faster, but it can provide a jumping board to new ideas and endeavors in a way that we could never achieve on our own with a blank whiteboard.

A great way to practice this is by playing around with Generative Art, which in my experience has been writing scripts that programmatically generate interesting visuals. At it’s base level, you’re writing code that will draw lines and shapes on a canvas in as complicated ways as you can design. The important part is introducing randomness. It could be as simple as some of the shapes rendering at random sizes, or as complex as randomized color palette.

Whatever I’ve done with Generative Art always leads down so many branches of ideas and projects. A partially finished piece will usually spark some ideas that take off on their own. If I simply sit with a piece of paper and try to plan out multiple generative pieces however, most likely I’ll hit a blank.

The goal is for the end result to be a surprise. If you’re surprised, then almost immediately you will have new ideas come to you. Move fast, let the work do itself when you can, trust yourself, and see what happens. It’s very difficult for own work to surprise us unless we let it.