Question: How do I find my voice as an artist?
Editor’s note: This question and its corresponding answers are printed as the intro to our new zine, On finding your voice. Read the zine here.
Question: How do I find my voice as an artist? I know I want to create things, and I have a lot of ideas, but I find it hard to narrow my scope. How do I know which directions or formats to pursue when developing a voice and approach that’s uniquely me?
“The word "find" or "finding" is a question to me. There is nothing to find. It is not waiting there, whatever you think it is, for you. The way it happens for each writer or artist isn’t the same. I wanted to be a writer from the age of eight. I wrote two compositions and loved doing it. I knew I could be good at this, even great, and if that doesn’t sound modest, it’s because it wasn’t. But that’s what this little girl felt. She was driven. Something about doing it occupied me completely. I was happy doing this thing. I read all the time. I thought about writing. About books. At a certain moment, in my late 20s, I started to know or consider or think about what I wanted to write seriously. Seriously thinking and writing. I didn’t find anything. I worked toward it.”
“Finding one’s artistic "voice" can be endlessly frustrating, because there’s no neat solution—it’s something we can’t touch or even really define. In this way, my own journey has involved a trust in the instinctual part of myself—if I loved something, I went forth in that direction to study it. In high school, I thought I might become a photographer or a filmmaker, but writing is the only medium where I’ve been able to express something exactly the way I wanted to. I can slow down time, I can imagine someone else’s dreams, I can arrive at some kind of emotional truth that I didn’t know was inside me. If this sounds mystical, it’s because it is. The voice that I find to be the "truest" of all is the voice that, when written, I barely even recognize. I summoned it from my subconscious and then forgot that I did. I expect this definition to change over time, but I expect the process to remain the same: through repetition, frustration, and practice, an idea with potential begins to emerge.”
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