Lately I've been thinking a lot about peer pressure, and the way that other people influence us. It first dawned on me that peer pressure can be really useful when I was in university, when spending time around my awesome friend Lacey turned me into a photo-machine. Lacey and I would do elaborate photo set ups, spend hours in the dark room, and fill our year end portfolio twice over the requirement. This was not my usual way of working, but when I was around Lacey I always pushed myself a little harder (to keep up with her amazing standards, no doubt!)
When I finished art school, everything died down. I relaxed, drew a picture every now and then, but that was it. Then 6 months or so out of art school I started dating a graphic design student named Mark. Over the course of our 8 month stint, we ended up forming a small design group with 2 of our other graphic design friends, put out a run of 8 (or was it 6?) t-shirt designs in collaboration with Living Planet (a screen company in Newfoundland) and were on our way to reaching the stars! (Until the relationship ended, of course). My time spent with Mark opened me up to a whole new part of the art community; graphic design. To this day I still go to Chapters and check out Computer Arts magazine, Juxtapose, Beautiful Decay, and other design mags and think fondly of all our creative times together. And whenever I talk to him online (which is somewhat often) I still feel creative and inspired after our chats.
Then this past Christmas, I was spending a lot of time with my wicked cousin Becki (who, incidentally, I had met the Mark through!). Feeling stuffed from Christmas dinner, her and I sat in the hallway at her house hunched over her laptop. She was showing me all the design work she had been doing, I was bookmarking my favorite fashion blogs on her interwebs. We got to talking about design, screen printing, fashion and business and I left her house feeling crushed that I no longer live in the same province as she does. Being around her made me explode with ideas, in the same way that Lacey and Mark made me feel.
The point that I'm trying to get to is that being around creative people who inspire you is one of the best ways to be creative and inspired yourself. That old "no man is an island" bullcrap is actually true! I read an article this morning about how happiness is contagious up to 3 degrees of separation! So if your friend's friend is happy, then you're more likely to be happy...I think that's how it works. I firmly believe that the same can be said for creativity. My other cousin Jackie is a great case in point. For a couple of years she worked at a crappy insurance company. She hardly ever painted or drew, and in fact she wasn't enjoying herself at all. Then, she started working at a creative arts community center (she's the exec. assistant or something, but I like to think she runs the whole show) Now, she's working on a new body of work (that's right, not one painting, a BODY of them!) she's organizing events, and she's having chair racing derbies when there's no one around. She's living the sweet life! The lesson to be learned here, comrades, is to always keep yourself surrounded by creative, like minded individuals. You can keep the flame (of art-love) alive, but you have to stoke the fire with your friends... (not by throwing them in, just get them to help you fan the flames.)
Here's a link to the article about happiness travelling through networks.