Throughout my career as an artist and speaker at conferences, team building events and creative workshops, many people have asked me what’s the secret to working on many different creative fields and still reach a good level of quality in all of them.
The secret is simple, depth.
Imagine you are sitting on the rocks in front of the ocean, looking at the waters. You think you can see something moving down below, some shapes maybe, some colors. You can guess as to what is living down there, what behaviors, events, patterns are beneath those boundaries.
The truth is, as long as you look at that world from the outside you can be right there for years and your understanding will not evolve much.
But in the moment you take the bold step to jump into that water and dive beneath that boundary, everything changes. And it changes fast.
You have moved onto a new level. What was fuzzy and distorted from the outside is now crystal clear. You can feel it, touch it, it is right there in front of your eyes. You don’t need to guess. Suddenly, you have taken a leap in understanding.
The same thing happens with the arts. If we interact with painting, photography, filmmaking, sculpting and other creative disciplines at a shallow level, they seem really opaque, full of secrets that also seem to be uniquely distinct in each of those creative fields.
It is only when we dive right to the deep roots of those art forms, either through the guidance of an expert or our own self-learning, that we discover they all share the same root principles.
At that moment, in the deep silence below the waters, you are confronted with the beauty of lighting, color, shape, form, composition, rhythm… You realize that once you understand those root principles you can apply them in a very direct way to any of the art forms. That photography, filmmaking, painting, design, music or sculpting are only channels through which you express the generic fundamental principles of rhythm, lighting, composition, color and all the others.
And you can also apply this to every part of your life. Understanding is the key. Understanding can take you further in a day than shallowness in 20 years. It is as dramatic as that.
That is why our aim should not just be to become a great photographer or musician, but to become a great student of life. Always. To become an expert at how light behaves and interacts with us and the world. To become an expert at how our brain and mind interact with time and space.
Leonardo da Vinci was maybe the greatest artist that understood this concept of being a student of life. When you are a student of life, the boundaries between art and science disappear. All boundaries in fact, disappear. And what remains is the universal beauty of life, the foundations that make possible this miracle we all go through.
Understanding that beauty allows you to truly become an artist of life and apply that beauty through any number of channels you want to explore.