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How To Create Space as an Artist

Words by Lili Hall // Photo by Bailey McGarrell

Being an artist can be a joyful, lonely, exhilarating, complicated experience. Highly emotional and deeply personal. In the realm of expression, the act of “creating space” can often feel as though it transcends physical dimensions. Some artists credit the concept of making space with some of their best work – a path for honesty and an openness that comes with being completely comfortable with oneself. But in an age of overthinking and perfection, how do you do that?

Lili from Squaring Circles has written an essay for Ramona that delves into the significance of crafting that all important ‘space’ as an artist, where ideas can breathe, emotions unfurl, and creativity to know no bounds. If you’re feeling like you are in an artistic rut, check out Lili’s tips and see if you can tap into something that feels right for you.

Creating space can be done very consciously when you drop into yourself as a being/ individual. Coming together in creating sacred space with intentionality is setting it up right. Do that with rituals – I’ve learnt a lot about working with Brendan (also from Squaring Circles). Writing is a fantastical way to begin. It is hard coming back to that space once you’ve left it. Try to capture everything.

When you find collaborators that allow your voice to be heard and know when it’s been conjured they can assist you in making your sound more defined. Recording, editing, post-production can all really sculpt your original expression.Through this process there will always be personal and emotional dynamics that you need to push through to learn where your creative boundaries lie.

When you’re in an allowing space, what you can’t say out loud, you can sing. Deep seated feelings need to be sung out otherwise they can often feel stuck. These repressed messages and true emotion simply want to be felt, seen, heard or experienced on some collective level with the people you’re creating with. You can tap into these freely if you can build a safe space.

For me, finding and connecting to that voice is in private active solitude, when I can truly tap into the most relaxed part of myself. Refining it and experimenting with this can be done half with others and half on my own to understand what wants to be said and spoken on a track. Looping mantras that have been with me and ready to be expressed for the whole album was a very hypnotic experience. Even just treating each part of the process with an explorative nature and curiosity, staying in that child-like playful mindset, humming little songs to yourself that keep coming back over years (the good ones always stick).

Even just treating each process with an explorative nature and curiosity, staying in that child-like playful mindset, humming little songs to yourself that keep coming back over years (the good ones always stick).

Taking time to relax the body and be in spaces that aren’t polluted with over produced superficiality. The organic side of music for me has that. It shows up in instrumentation too, seeing stripped back artists and gigs with a basic set up that focuses on channeling raw energy really gives a lot to me – life can be tense but if you can create and share and give and create this space for others it’s such a transformative experience.

Finding inspiration, listening, pottering or bumming around in your bedroom – making space and time for your tastes, likes and style to come through is important. Absorbing exactly what you like or feels right to your ear can help you fall deeper into your world also help you to communicate direction more effectively when making music with other people. It’s definitely worth making a few spaces to do this: multiple projects and collaborations have shown me how funky and cool co-creating these places with friends can be. Jamming is the best way to have a light hearted and transformative experience together.

Being in nature lets songs and ideas simmer. Finding distance, time away or simply grounding yourself with earth or water helps your unconscious speak. If you have something to be expressed it always flows better under simpler conditions. Post COVID it can seem difficult with modern day time constraints and pressure but prioritising things that feel good – for me it’s yoga, bee keeping (even though I haven’t dont it for a few years), swimming, using the sauna through winter, tummy time on earth, vigorous thai massages that are a true bodily experience, reading time with the right music – all of these things help pause life’s stressors and help meditate on the real ideas within.

For our music, we’ve done a lot of the recording at our home which wasn’t ideal for me. It’s just been the process in making the album but I definitely need separation and a neutral space so it’s been good to get away when we can. Perspective of nomadic frequency – recording will always be the rough end of the stick so I save 80% of my energy for that.

Power + control – I am learning as much as possible to enable these processes to become easier. I have found experimenting with different techniques and pedals, harmonies evolving from reversed vocals and looping – listening to a lot of styles of music and trying different mics/ recording techniques or having an idea of post production effects.

Creating space to reflect at the end of each project instead of being hard on yourself when something hasn’t reached your ‘ideal vision’ (in every artist’s head). When in this space, you can make room for consideration, for what you want to bring to other aspects of the work or to future projects. Deepening your connection to the kind of work you want to produce and leaving something for next time allows you to keep moving, creating and sustaining yourself as an artist.

Finally, the people you surround yourself with are key. Community support is integral to keeping my sanity and state of calm. I have a lot of friends and friends who happen to be artists who really support, understand and love what I do. Find your people, and the space will follow.

Keep up with Lili’s work through Squaring Circles’ socials below

Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Bandcamp | Spotify

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