Intentions offer the impression of agency – but art processes can also thrive on chaos. The main intention that artists will require is the one to stay curious, and determined to establish their personal processes to continue making art.
Art is often thought to require intention, but that’s not necessarily true. We want to live in a world influenced by our intentions, since this gives us the impression of agency – of power and control over the world. Reality doesn’t necessarily confirm this though: randomness can influence the world just as much. You often can’t influence beyond your initial leanings and affinities. Work, network, business and personal development thrive on both intention and randomness. Art might be their love child. Life brims with their synchronicities.
Unintended situations and mistakes can set the stage for intentional further steps. Order and chaos constantly overlap and expand each other. Your grasp of the situation, your sensitivity and empathy are the best possible navigation tools. Especially when thinking of art as a process to express contemporaneity, and witnessing the many unintended aspects of life surrounding us, the “best” art might actually be the result of unintended choices: you can create sloppy work if you’re sloppy or lazy – and might expertly express something relevant about the Zeitgeist. Since the arts don’t feature monolithic, fixed quality judgments, you can use processes as sloppily or exacting as you want, without resulting in works that are inherently better or worse than the rest. There simply isn’t a connection between a work’s creation process, and whether it will appear “good” or “bad” to others. What ultimately matters is whether your practice is authentic to you. Instead of intention, focus your authenticity – intently.
Work, network, business and personal development thrive on both intention and randomness. Art might be their love child.
What’s ultimately required of you is the curiosity and determination, the intention to carve your own work processes, and thus a (mental, emotional, physical) space that suits you – even though it might feel like a niche, it is still yours, and thus essential. If it enables you to establish processes and collaborations that feel good enough to continue going, then with luck and business dedication, and a sound understanding of what success means to you, this success might actually follow. Along the way, unexpected situations will arise: conversations with people who care about your work; job opportunities and collaboration requests; these might influence your idea of success, and create an ever-more holistic version of it.
But this all is based on a rather humble idea: that artists need to work on establishing a life that enables them to continue making art.