It’s strange where interesting insights about creativity and art can come from. A couple of weeks ago, I was foolishly reading the opinion page on “The Guardian”‘s website.
I don’t know why I do it – their clickbait opinion articles usually leave me feeling angry, paranoid or filled with despair about the world and the comments below them often make me lose all faith in humanity.
But, hey, at least it’s better than reading the Daily Mail or the Daily Express.
Anyway, one of the articles that I ended up reading was a rather long and very descriptive (eg: you probably shouldn’t read it if you are a vegetarian or a vegan. But if, like me, you’re an omnivore – then you should read it) article about hunting in Australia called “Caught in the net of life and time: what modern hunting means to me” by Michael Adams.
First of all, I’ve never actually been hunting or even been to Australia and I don’t really have much of an interest in either at the moment.
But, anyway, I’m not here to talk about hunting or Australia.
I’m here to talk about an absolutely brilliant quote about art from a writer called Hugh Brody which was cleverly hidden in the middle of Adams’ article about hunting. The quote reads: “it is artists, speculative scientists, and those whose journeys in life depend on not quite knowing the destination who are close to hunter-gatherers, who rely upon a hunter-gatherer mind“.
As soon as I read this quote, it really jumped out at me. It wasn’t exactly that the idea was new to me, it’s just that – until I read this quote – I’d always viewed this part of the creative process as being closer to gambling, dancing or solving a puzzle than anything else.
But, I think that viewing the creative process as being closer to hunting is one of the best ways of looking at it. For starters, seeing the creative process this way puts the artist in far more control than if they view it as being close to gambling or anything like that. After all, even though gambling and hunting both involve a certain amount of chance – hunting requires a lot more skill than gambling does.
Not only that, it’s a more optimistic way of looking at the creative process too. Whilst a gambler knows that there’s a chance that they might hit the jackpot, they realise that it’s fairly unlikely. However, when a hunter goes hunting, they know that there’s a fairly good chance that they’ll come back with something that they can eat. Yes, it’s still chance, but the odds are slightly better for hunters than they are for gamblers.
Plus, when you’re going through an uninspired period, it’s kind of reassuring to know that there is still a lot of artistic “prey” (or “treasure” if you’re anti-hunting – go for whichever type of hunting feels most interesting to you) out there for you to catch at some point in the future.
And, in a way, Brody’s quote also captures one of the reasons why creating art can be so exciting and addictive. It’s the thrill of sitting in front of a blank piece of paper and not quite knowing what you will find in there. It’s the feeling of going out into an unknown imaginative “wilderness” and knowing that you might return with something that will truly amaze you.
So, yes, Brody is right – creating art is like hunting.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂