By Vicky Blume on March 1st, 2023
Seasonal Thinking for Creative Beings
Big Ideas | Tips and Tools | Creativity | Artists and Members | Artist Wellness
It’s rejection season, baby. For creative beings who bravely put themselves out there this fall and winter, I tip my hat to you—regardless of the outcome. The first months of the year are a notoriously brutal season for artists because, while a small percentage of us just received happy news (you finally got that grant!), the vast majority of working artists are questioning why they poured hours of their precious free time into applications that go nowhere.
If you’re wondering how things went for me, I’m in my “licking my wounds and avoiding salt exposure at all costs” season. But when I take a step back, it’s easy to remember how blooming and bright the world feels when you get that grant, or get selected for that show, or land that epic gig. It’s tempting to see that season—your flourishing season—as the destination or goal of your creative practice. But as any seasoned artist will tell you, this mindset isn’t sustainable. A life-long creative practice is its own, dynamic ecosystem with dramatically different seasons—each offering a unique opportunity.
FOREST FIRE SEASON
opportunity = renewal
Identifying and honoring your personal, creative seasons is the key to joyful making, because it imbues every moment of your journey with a kind of singular importance. Even the most frustrating dry spells could be setting the stage for a healthy, regenerative forest fire. The hot, crackling flames could clear out the stubborn underbrush of your creative practice, opening you up to sunlight and infusing your soil with fresh nutrients.
My forest fire season, you ask? It’s a cute story, actually. As a visual artist, working in digital marketing and graphic design was an intuitive way for me to pay the bills. Visual storytelling is like, what art is all about! But after a few years of designing and flier-ing and Instagram reel-ing, I started to feel boxed in. I knew I needed a change, but I couldn’t yet see what I had to offer the world. Enter: Fractured Atlas. Like a goddamn forest fire, this job is slowly clearing out all my limiting beliefs about the jobs available to me as an artist. Your creativity isn’t gonna look one certain way for the rest of your life, and can manifest as paid work in unexpected and organic ways.
Just as nature goes through cycles of growth, death, and rebirth, so too does the creative process. What parts of you could use some more sunlight this year?
BREAK UP SEASON
opportunity = grounding
You and your latest project have been going steady for a couple months or years now. You’ve had a great run, but it’s time for both of you to move on. Saying goodbye to a gig, series, or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity can feel like an honest-to-god breakup. You miss your crew and your routines, and avoid driving past the venue. Every trace of your work has been taken down and replaced with shiny, new posters for the upcoming production—you’ve been replaced. In break up season, your life inevitably feels like a tender, heartstring-tugging Pixar short.
Honoring your creative break up season will look different from person to person. Sometimes you’re going to need more time for reflection than you expected, because the project was big and groundbreaking. Other times, the break up antidote is staying busy. But if you’re a busy body, what you probably need is rest. Yes, I’m looking at you!
Above all else, I recommend finding meaning and grounding through community. In the theater world, for example, everyone gets together after the final performance to strike the set. Sure, there are some practical reasons for collectively taking apart the set, but it’s also an intimate, celebratory goodbye. Your hands stay busy while you exchange heartfelt thank you’s and acknowledge that this sort of…sucks? You can’t imagine your life without these people and the shared North Star of bringing art to life together. But being in community grounds us in the shared experiences of uncertainty and mourning, and reminds us that we’re never as alone as we think.
opportunity = rest
You remember the sweet, restful photo of a baby seal at the top of this article? That dude is unbothered. He is moisturized. He is taking the time he needs for rest and renewal. Just looking at him lowers my heart rate.
When the pace of my life picks up and everyone seems to need things from me (my personal kryptonite), my daily routines begin to look more mechanical and less organic. If I continue on like this for too long, I eventually burn out and find myself unable to do anything other than rest. One of my favorite reminders during times like these is to “take care of your creature.” Rather than treating yourself like a 20th century manufacturing company that churns out creative wins like they’re consumer goods, you could see yourself as a creative being. One that takes weeks, months, or even years to hibernate, reflect, and rest.
When your creative creature is buried under a snowbank, cocooned by darkness and slowness, it’s easy to label yourself as uninspired or unmotivated. In reality, when we embrace the stillness of this season, it becomes easier to take frequent, intentional breaks from creative work—instead of letting exhaustion dictate when we care for our creature.
INSERT YOUR SEASONS HERE
Every creative being has their own, personal seasons. When you’re trudging through a long dry spell, it’s difficult to imagine what good could come from failure and disappointment. But then, your practice is engulfed in a hot, restorative forest fire. All across the world, creatives are experiencing wildly different artistic seasons, each offering a unique opportunity to grow, examine, rest, reflect, play, question, build, connect, or explore. Embracing every aspect of our creative journeys—even the most challenging and perplexing parts—deprioritizes external measures of success and brings our attention to what really matters: building a joyful, authentic, and sustainable creative practice.
About Vicky Blume
Vicky Blume is an arts worker based in New Haven, CT. She currently serves as the 2022 Creative-in-Residence at the New Haven Free Public Library, after moving to the city to study psychology and art at Yale. Prior to joining Fractured Atlas, Blume lit up community engagement for Artspace New Haven and Creative Arts Workshop. She is a fan of open source education and people who use nature-inspired metaphors in professional settings. In her artistic practice, Blume builds interactive websites, animations, and installations that offer calming and consensual alternatives to the Attention Economy. At home, she is passionate about her houseplants but struggles to care for more sensitive plants. She aspires to create a home environment where every houseplant can thrive.