What is An Artist Mindset?

Jul 27, 2017 / Photography / how to be creative

Three Suns, 2011
Three Suns, 2011. Experiments in Cyanotype Toning: Coffee

In this blog, I always talk about the artist mindset. I contend that if you adopt the artist mindset at work, you get better job performance and fulfillment. Work will never be perfect. If it were fun, then it wouldn’t be a job.

Artist Mindset - How you know you have it

Here’s what I think an artist mindset is.

You don’t know where you’re going. The final work is as much a surprise to you as to your audience.

You’re open to the unknown.

An artist is someone who has something to say. He has an opinion.

An artist is observant about the topic that he’s interested in.

An artist mindset then simplifies and gets to the essence of that topic.

An artist is obsessive. She will not let go.

An artist is self-directed. She follows the thread of her obsession, and follows through.

An artist combines existing things to come up with something new. But she knows it’s not new, it’s just a combination of things that she’s learned in the past from other people.

An artist doesn’t care about what other people think. He creates from what his obsession is. Not that an artist is immune to criticism or work that is ignored. No, that hurts him deeply, but at the moment of creation, he doesn’t care about anything else.

An artist mindset goes into flow more easily because he is obsessed.

An artist mindset is open. It comes up with an idea and will be obsessed by it. But then she is open to destroying it and coming up with another.

An artist mindset’s sole purpose is to create.

Why Your Job Is Boring

And that could be the reason why your job is boring and uninteresting. You are not creating. You are processing. You are implementing. Most people’s jobs are not about creating, it’s processing.

But let’s back up for a moment. In what way can the job not be about processing?


People usually hate meetings. They are time wasters, where you don’t get anything done. I view them differently. It’s during meetings that we should be excited. If in a meeting, are we trying to solve an issue? Then that’s a creation moment. An artist mindset’s sole purpose is to create. Meetings are where the artist mindset should kick in.

That’s why I love meetings. It’s the time where I get to disrupt the processing that happens in a day job and approach the unknown. The eventual solution will be as a surprise to me as to everyone else.

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