Art and Creativity: How Is Your Commitment Level?

in art •  last year

As of late, I have been considering the idea of "commitment" quite a bit. 

Sap bubble on apricot branch

How deep are our commitments to our craft-- our ideals? How easily do we allow our commitments to be broken, or how easily do we become distracted enough to change direction in mid-stream? 

Conversely, to what degree to we feel entitled to an "Easy Button," or-- at the very least-- to results coming to us with less efforts than we had originally expected?

At the gallery, we meet artists at many different stages of commitment to their artistic passion. Which is fine. But it is almost inevitable that the ones whose work we end up accepting are also the ones who are fully committed to their work.

Dabbling vs. Commitment

Perhaps we all have our own definitions, but commitment is-- to me-- a statement about our seriousness about something: Music, Writing, Painting, Sculpting or whatever moves our soul.

Sndpipers at water's edge (sorry, couldn't resist!)

Whereas I have always "dabbled" in various types of art as a hobbyist, when I made a commitment to take it seriously, part of the deal was that I would work hard for five years and then reassess... even if I encountered various types of resistance in the process. 

That meant doing work every day-- as opposed to "whenever I felt like it." It meant being willing to commit to create something, even if it felt like garbage.

In a similar vein, s a writer on Steemit-- once I established this was a pretty cool place-- I decided that I was going to "give it a couple of years and see" how things went. 

More recently, I made a commitment (for the Gallery) to write as part of the @sndbox initiative... again, this was a longer term commitment.

What Does Commitment Do?

The most superficial answer, of course, is that commitment means you start treating what you are doing as a profession, rather than just "a thing.

Close-up of a ripening apricot

But if we're passionate about art, or our "craft," isn't that what we are doing, anyway?

Not always! In fact, in many cases people avoid fully committing to their art because when they DO they also expose the deepest parts of their souls; the core of their essential selves, to the world... and to the possibility of criticism and rejection. On the other hand, if you're "just dabbling," someone making a derogatory remark carries less meaning and impact because you "weren't serious, anyway."

So, in a sense, true commitment is taking an emotional risk... not just taking a risk on your skills and talents.

In the course of my involvement with the art business, I have met a remarkably large number of talented artists who were more "committed" to being restaurant servers and retail store clerks than they were to their art because they had fears of getting hurt if they went "all in" with their art or music or other creative endeavor.

Eternal Study as Commitment Avoidance

There's a special "subtype" of not being fully committed to one's art that bears mentioning here: The "Eternal Student."

Hoarfrost on blackberry leaves

Just how many more degrees and diplomas and special courses do you actually "need" before you are ready to commit fully to your art? Is that ceramics course really going to improve your painting? Or are you really just avoiding putting yourself out there, using the "continuing education" label as an excuse to appear busy while you're actually avoiding the real issue: That you're really afraid of starting and fully immersing yourself in your art?

I'm not expecting an answer here... simply offering up some food for thought.

Education can be great-- no doubt-- but be mindful that you are not using it as a method of procrastination!

Thank you for reading! Red Dragonfly is a proud member and supporter of the @sndbox creative initiative.

The Red Dragonfly is an independent alternative art gallery located in Port Townsend, WA; showcasing edgy and unique contemporary art & handmade crafts by local and worldwide artists. All images are our own, unless otherwise credited. Where applicable, artist images used with permission.   

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Hey reddragonfly ! This is one of the best posts I have ever read about about art. At first it didn't really striked, but you got me with the emotionnal part until the end. I could have not say better.

I also want to add something which hit me 2 years ago and still continues to hit me every day on Artstation and Deviant Art : Commtment as you define it can be an illusion for many artists, both students and pros. When you think you put your whole energy and soul in your painting to end up being....someone else's art. IMO it happens a lot to students after artschool or mentorships or after spending too much time looking up to one's peers's awesome artworks. You learn to think the same as them, look up to the same references as them and like the same things as them. Afterwhile you end up having the same art as everyone with soulless art you think yours while hiding your whole being behind that façade (wall ? i'm not sure if english here).

And Once you are here it is a pretty difficult thing to get some steps back and reflect on your work and on yourself.

Thank you so muuch for putting this post out there, it also gives me courage to be more committed to what I do ^^ Have a wondeerful day !
Cheers !


That's another important point, thank you!

I do occasionally see artists labor on "in the style of" someone else-- they either got used to follow only that one direction for inspiration, or they never really stepped into their own style. Again, it's a form of "staying safe" with what you're doing. Stepping outside that framework is both about commitment AND authenticity.

Great comment!


Thank you ! 'Stepping outside that framework is both about commitment AND authenticity.' But this is the most difficult part as it requires you to know that this "style" is not yours, and the path to one's style is kind of an inside journey, so it requires the artist to put the work in deepening his understanding of himself I think (which for many artists doesn't come naturally, especially with the Internet now -but i'm rambling I can just barely remember how it was before)

That's so true, to add on, I think passion is important as well.. Keeps me going when it comes to my work.

Great post!


Oh yes, being passionate about what you are doing is definitely important, and it usually helps "anchor" your commitment in the long run.

Thanks for the comment!

ya commitment is a good thing if its happen from both side,,we can trust if we giving commitment to each other,,cool stuff@reddragonfly

Thank you for your post. I really enjoyed reading it and it got me thinking. How about me? Hmm..

excellent questions and thoughts and I couldn't agree more! I've heard reason after reason why people don't go for their creative endeavor and it often has to do with not having a space or something logistical and I always know that whatever the reason, it's simply fear. And it's ok not to be ready too! People get to their internal commitment when they're ready but recognition of one's process and the reasons why I believe are important.

In my 30 years of art-making my commitment has been the one consistent despite anything else in my life. My commitment lately has been shifting away from where it lay in my career as a ceramic artist and to a commitment to my creativity regardless of medium; a commitment to honoring my need for expression. My creative voice has been changing over the past year or 3 and I'm not completely sure what the medium will be but for now I have a clarified commitment to an honest expression and to finding and using my metaphorical "voice" in ways that have integrity for me.

Thanks for the thoughtful post!