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Embracing Imperfections: Lessons from my Artist's Journey - life hacks for happiness

Artistic growth is not steady and linear. Contrary to common belief failures are more common than successes.. That's one of the first lessons I learned right at the beginning of the artistic journey. 


For me, making art is highly elusive. There one day, gone the next. I could be on a roll for weeks, and then suddenly have a few days where I don’t even have motivation to create anything. 

I have labelled these days “hibernation period” and struggled to cope with them.

Most artists feel guilty about such days, we are prone to perfectionism. Our subconscious beliefs tell us we're worthless if we don't excel at everything. The need to control everything..


Maybe this is why my subconscious - as a cry for help - led me to fine art photography. The medium that is technical, that behaves in unexpected ways and refuses to be fully tamed. A medium that helps to preserve memories from getting erased. A medium that allows one to express other’s feelings as they express themselves. 


I really do think I was drawn to photography for a reason. Photography and art making gives me what others seek through spiritual practices. It has taught me many valuable lessons that have spilled over into everything I do:

  • Being in control is boring. Letting go is exciting.

  • Perfection is dull. Imperfection is interesting. Japanese have a word for this ‘Wabi Sabi’, which has become overly popular in the west of late. 

  • Grasping for control gets punished. Embracing the unexpected gets rewarded.

  • Beginning and exploring a concept is an invitation to play and learn, not an obligation to create a masterpiece.

While I've since fallen in love with other art mediums than photography - I keep coming back to photography and videography for these reasons. There's just something magical about it. 

Photography has taught me that being in control, having things my way, doesn't guarantee an image I'll love. I think I know what perfection looks like, but I don't.

Madhvee Deb's studio showing her work in progress with some photographs and artworks hanging on the wall


These concepts, I believe, are useful for every single person. We often create obstacles for ourselves. We just can't help it. We hold rigid beliefs about what our art or life should be. We compare ourselves to others, thinking the grass is greener elsewhere. A photograph would be great if only... we improved some more, stopped making avoidable mistakes, sold more art, got this or that opportunity.


For me, my biggest revelation around being an artist is that it's all about the practice. We will never have enough time however we do have the ability to make time to do what we love. As it is beautifully mentioned in Indian scripture the Bhagavad Gita:

The verse is—

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७

In Roman scripts—

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani


The meaning of the verse is— You have the right to work only but never to its fruits. Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.


I guess the key to success is if we just let go, and get out of our own way. While I understand this concept I still struggle to internalise it…Well it is work in progress. 

But being aware of my own demons, and self-sabotaging tendencies, has made all the difference.

 Hope my personal and very honest mumbling and simple life hacks for happiness helps you in some way.

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