You don’t have to have it all together. While here for the Visiting Writers Series, Angela Pelster and David James Poissant discussed how they didn’t start writing until their mid-to-late twenties, didn’t go to school for it as an undergrad, and started taking classes only after having tried and hated other things. However, we can work toward accomplishing our goals even when not directly working on our craft. One way to do this is to surround yourself with inspiration. Give yourself the tools to be an interesting artist with something to say. We can only work with and draw from what we know, so learn a lot. Take time to read the news headlines every day; take a class on something you’ve always wanted to learn about and never had time for. Talk to people who have different opinions than you or who work with a different style. This isn’t to say stop learning how to perfect your craft, because we all know that is crucial and important. However, it is easy to get stuck in working the only way you know how to, to work with the same story line, characters, perspective, backdrop, color. While it is important to stay focused on your career, having a healthy and vibrant social involvement can deepen your empathy and introduce you to new ideas and perspectives. One of the most interesting things I’ve learned this semester is about Islamic art (not my focus in life, just an interesting class). Islamic art has invoked incredible transference of ideas and patterns from one medium to another. Religious script and phrases ended up in much of the architecture, in pottery, metalwork, and textiles. Textile patterns were transferred onto walls with ceramic tiles. The list here is quite long, and I will spare you, but it opened my mind to new perspectives that I am incorporating in my senior studio art projects. I am combining thread, ceramics, and beading into a wild, new (at least to me) aesthetic that I had never thought of before. While I assumed this class would have little relevance to me, it has changed the way I view art and craft. So, splurge on a just-for-fun class next semester, join a new group, or research something you’ve never learned about. After all, the most interesting artists are those with the wildest stories.