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Part 1: Building a creative practice

This article is part of a 4-part guest series on the community arts sector, by Tasneem Dairywala.

Tasneem is an award-winning contemporary visual artist and educator. Outside of her personal art practice, Tasneem works as the Executive Director of Art Ignite, and brings inclusive visual arts programming to the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood.

Tasneem will be releasing her first children's book, How to Show Love, in Spring 2022. To stay up to date on her work, subscribe to her monthly newsletter and follow her on Instagram. Stay tuned for her next post!

Building a Creative Practice

By Expecting the Unexpected

We’re all born artists, but for most of us, creativity gets buried under the pressure of heavy responsibilities, busy schedules, and rigid social structures. For those of us who are able to make room for our creativity, we still often manage to stifle it through our own expectations. So here are some dos and don’ts to build and sustain a creative practice based on my experiences.


Do expect your creativity to reward you, to create an additional layer of meaning in every part of your life. A tearful hug from an audience member, a homemade cake from a participant, a balloon of happiness expanding within your heart… These are the unexpected gifts your creativity will sprinkle upon you.


Don’t expect your creativity to reward you with money and fame. These goals are just a reflection of what society considers ‘successful’. If these are your end goals, there are easier ways to get to them. Our creations sew together the torn fragments of the world. What we create is valuable, even if it doesn’t meet the standard definition of success.


Do expect your creativity to stun and surprise you. Bring down ‘art’ from its pedestal so your creativity can have free reign. Trust in the unknown. Encourage yourself. Your creativity will bloom when you play, experiment and let loose!


Don’t expect your creativity to bring you perfection. We are imperfect beings living in an imperfect world. We can only make imperfect things. Be careful of the narrative you tell yourself. If you start creating to achieve perfection instead of joy, your creativity will go into hiding, quietly withdrawing until the pressure lifts off.


Do expect your creativity to want excitement and change. Go to shows, take classes, read books. Keep seeking knowledge and building connections.


Don’t expect creativity to always be around. Creativity doesn’t like being alone all the time, and it certainly doesn’t like being bored. Pretty much anything other than sitting at home and stewing about its absence will bring it back to you.

And that’s all I’ve got! Creativity is elusive and slippery. Expect too much, and it’ll flee. Let it breathe, and it’ll seep through the cracks of the ordinary in the most wonderful ways. I wish you the best of luck!


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