The Battling with Shiny Object Syndrome

It's a story as old as making-- the twitchy, compulsive desire to want to "make all the things." And often you want to move onto that next making project before you've finished or mastered the one in front of you. Does this mean you lack discipline and focus? Or is it something natural you should embrace? Artist and maker Courtney Cerruti has thought quite a bit about this, as well has dealt with it (because she really does everything a creative can do!). Enjoy!

Q: Tell us about yourself and what you make!
A: I’m Courtney Cerruti. I call myself a “Maker Extraordinaire” because I make all kinds of things, and often can’t settle into just one art or craft. I’m a painter, printmaker, curator, connector of creatives and I teach and write craft books. I’ve been doing some form of this for 10 years, but the last 5 years have been pretty focused on teaching, writing books and the last two years on collaborations and curating shows, and currently I’m working on opening a storefront/workshop space called Long Weekend. 

Q: The common frustration of creatives is "shiny object syndrome" or what I sometimes refer to as "Craft ADD." Where do you think this urge comes from?
A: Ha! I call this multiple muse syndrome. It is a HUGE problem, but it's also something that comes with the territory of being a creative. I see possibility and creative potential in everything, which makes it hard to focus; but its also a way of seeing the world that I wouldn’t trade for anything. That’s what makes seeing art in person so empowering. Non-artists see work and think “Wow, how did they think of that?” Artists see work and think, "Wow, I love how they used that material or that shape or that concept.” As an artist, I think you find inspiration more easily, because it's everywhere when you see the world in that way. The flip side of that coin is that you are easily distracted. 

Q: Why do you think people want to stifle it? And do you ever think it's something that should be stifled?
A: I can see why some people are frustrated by “Art ADD", because it's a distraction. It can be hard to finish things, to master one technique or craft when you’ve got your hands in everything. It can also be expensive. I can easily be seduced into buying new craft supplies because they’re pretty or precious and then it's just another thing I make for a week or two and am not going to invest a lot of time into.

All of that’s OK. You’re allowed to explore your creative interests. If everything is a distraction and you’re feeling overwhelmed, then it's best to just pair down. Keep it simple. Sometimes it’s the pencil on paper drawing or the 3 color painting that has the most impact. You don’t need a fortune in supplies. You just need the time and space to make something. It's a constant struggle to find the balance between inspiration and exploration and actual creation. 

Q: When can you tell that going down these "rabbit holes" are actually leading to something? Or is that even the wrong perspective to have altogether?
A: Hmmm… I think you can easily fall down a rabbit hole when finding inspiration. I’m in a constant love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I see so many people doing amazingly creative things and I want to get up and make something immediately, and then other times I feel like I’m not doing enough with my art, my life etc. That’s when the rabbit hole becomes a black hole and you have to turn it off and just focus on what YOU do and how to make the work you want to make and forget about everyone else. The rabbit hole can be a good place when one creative thing or image can lead you to another and then you discover a new artist, a new process, a new piece and its a happy and serendipitous event. 

Q: When faced with the feeling of "ooh, I've got this really great idea for this thing..." but you're already in the middle of this other thing, how do you handle it?
A: Not well. :) I’m pretty indulgent with all my whims, desires and distractions. I’m also a huge procrastinator. But the reality is also that I’m an extremely hard worker, so I’ve just learn how to accept all of this as part of my process. 

Q: Anything else?
A: Be present, show up, and when in doubt, coerce a buddy to do something with you, because you’re far more likely to accomplish a project or go to an event when someone else is relying on you.

Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: I’m addicted to Instagram (@ccerruti ). I post any and everything there including workshops, process shots, calls for shows, museum exhibits etc.  I also love it when people reach out and connect through Instagram; I’ve met some amazing artists that way who are now friend IRL. Don’t be shy!

You can also find me here:
Teaching on Creativebug:
Publications: If you love washi tape, make sure you check out my book, 101 + Washi Projects and Ideas!

I've also written a book on Playing with Image Transfers, geared specifically for makers and artists!

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