A Beautiful Anarchy: When the Life Creative Becomes the Life Created by Jamie Engelhardt
“Whatever your work, make it art. Do it with all your heart. Fill your canvas with paint. Let it be messy. Make it bold. Make it unapologetically yours. Most of all: make it.”
This is the final line in the book I just finished entitled “A Beautiful Anarchy” by one of my favorite photographer/authors David duChemin.
In the initial pages of the book, duChemin writes that anarchy literally means “without a ruler.” He states that the book he puts forth is about the freedom to create. The freedom to do things the way you want to do them, regardless of what other people may think or say.
Being a creative-type, this is scary. So often we are prone to caring what others think and forget to create for creation’s sake. We forget that creating, no matter what medium it may take, is often the very thing that brings us life; and when we create for others to be pleased, it is generally leading us to death. A prison, if you will, the exact opposite of anarchy.
On page 6 duChemin states, “We’re all creative, but we’ve allowed the arts to co-opt that word while making every other area of human creativity feel a little too self-conscious about using it.” It’s so true. We’ve spun a web of comparison and lies about who we are, what we can make, and just how good it is. What would happen if we all used our imaginations a little bit more and our analytics a little bit less? I’d like to propose, alongside my friend David, that we’d have a whole lot more innovations, a lot more contentedness, and a lot fewer cranky people. Just think about what would happen if business owners and small start-ups just really went for it. Like really went for it (think about how many ideas you alone have had and thought to yourself “that will never work, what a dumb idea” and never went for it). Creativity would be celebrated, not just in the arts, but in the business world, the technology world, heck- even the accounting world 🙂 I’d like to see a world like that wouldn’t you?
Later on, near page 39, duChemin writes about failure. He says, “The words ‘this might not work’ are probably some of the healthiest in the lexicon of anyone who wants to be creative. Failure isn’t falling off the bike, it’s in not getting back on and learning to ride the damn thing. Failing is assumed. It’s our best, most faithful teacher. That doesn’t mean, of course, that it doesn’t hurt like hell…” I love this. He normalizes what it means to fail. He teaches us to assume to fail. We just have to stand up, dust ourselves off, and get back to creating something new when the initial (and second and third) attempts don’t pan out exactly how we’d planned.
Whether you are a small business owner, painter, craft brewer, photographer, or techie, I promise you can glean some valuable knowledge from “A Beautiful Anarchy.” And who knows, maybe you just might learn to ride that damn bike after all.