Do we own the art we create? Is the song, the painting, the movie, and every other manifestation of our spiritual and creative energy, truly ours? We register the song with the library of congress and get copyright protection. We carve our name and ownership status on left, right and center of our creations. But do we really own them?
An eleventh-generation Karakami (traditional decorative woodblock-printer paper) artist in Japan gave me his answer. Kenkichi Senda is the master craftsman at Karacho, Japan’s only remaining Karakami maker. On an NHK World (Japanese broadcasting organization) program dedicated to the subject of Karakami, he said –at least what I heard he say– that he doesn’t own anything of what he creates. He carries these from the last generation, imparts his touch and leaves them for the next generation.
That made me thinking…
Isn’t “that” all we’re doing as well? As an artist, we take in energy (sounds, words, colors, styles, and thoughts and feelings), impart our own unique touch and bring forth that energy, just transformed into a new shape? Don’t the laws of thermodynamics tell us that nothing gets created? That energy (including matter) just changes shape from one form to another? Then do we “really” own anything?
And what happens when I let go of that sense of ownership? For one, my “ego” gets disarmed. And what happens when my ego is disarmed? Then I stop judging my art, I stop reading fear and anxiety into the process and outcome. I bring humility and a sense of fun and “experimentation is OK” to my craft. My work also takes on a more meaningful and spiritual depth. If what I create “never” disappears and as “energy” touches someone or something else, then I bring more focus and attention to what I create.
I know that some people aren’t as comfortable with concepts of “energy” and “spirituality” and prefer more tangible references. But aren’t these same concepts influencing Japan’s design aesthetics and leading to manufacture of some of the best-selling and quite advanced vehicles and consumer electronics out there?
When you boil me down, I “own” nothing and am just energy in transformation. 🙂