The questions we ask ourselves as artists are at the root of the creative process. As artists we are driven by the unknown. Contemplating various possibilities brings energy and change to our work. It keeps our work dynamic, and exciting, and it keeps us engaged in the creative process.
These questions may be big or small. Where is a particular piece heading? What “works”, and what does not? When is a piece finished? There are also deeper questions about our overall practice and direction. These questions play an important role in our work, and in developing a personal voice.
If we are not asking questions, it can only mean that we are completely satisfied with our work, which is seldom the case. We can always be asking the question “what happens next?” or “how did I arrive at this point?” When we stop asking questions, we are halting the creative process and stagnating. At this point it is easy to become bored, and for the quality of work to suffer.
Some of the best questions to ask start with “what if”. These questions are basic to finding your way into a process that works for you. We may not even be conscious of these questions, or put them into words, though it is not a bad idea to do so. A good idea is to keep a log or journal of your creative activities. You may wish to take notes as you work, but if this is disruptive to your process try taking a few minutes at the end of your day to write down any fresh insights.
Our work is built on the gradual accumulation of knowledge that arises from asking questions. Try putting a little more intention into these questions. Think about the questions you have asked in the past, the ones that you are currently asking, and the direction of your work. As you think about these questions more consciously, your work will gain depth, meaning, and complexity.