According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word curator has two modern definitions. 1. a person whose job is to be in charge of the objects or works of art in a museum or an art gallery, etc. 2. a person who uses their knowledge to select and present information or items such as pictures, video, music, etc. for people to use and enjoy, especially on the Internet. As creatives in today’s culture, we can easily get overwhelmed and misdirected by what we let into our lives. The solution is to consciously be aware of the influences on us, and to choose to be the curator of our life.
Editors are not the same as curators.
To be an editor is similar to a curator in that you are editing (rearranging or deleting) content so that the finished product is the best it can be. Both editors and curators use their knowledge to select or reject. However, editors are working with someone else’s content. The editor is not a creator.
To be a curator is to gather possibilities, look at them and select those that fit their vision of what they want to create. A classic example is included in the first part of the definition above. Curators create exhibits in museums and galleries. They pull together different works of art to create a show with a unified message or statement. That statement is their own.
Recently, I listened to a Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast episode where the host interviews Danielle Krysa of the blog, the Jealous Curator. Krysa defines being a curator as being a creator.
Why we need to curate our lives.
Why does this matter? The answer is in the second part of the definition of the word “curator” I quoted above.
2. a person who uses their knowledge to select and present information or items such as pictures, video, music, etc. for people to use and enjoy, especially on the Internet.
Today our daily influx of imagery, information, and knowledge can be overwhelming to process. We switch between our lives and the lives of others with every notification that comes into our smartphone.
The distraction can be so great that we’re unable to focus on, or even decide, what’s important in the moment. So instead of going to bed, we may find ourselves clicking on things like “What do the stars of Saved by the Bell look like now?” Which leads to “What child stars survived stardom?” Which then makes us curious enough to click on “Which child stars ended up in jail?” And…. suddenly, it’s past midnight.
Maybe that’s just me, but we are all inundated by a huge amount of information and images every day.
Creators need to be sensitive.
There is a lot of the content available to us that we don’t need or want. Creatives are sensitive by nature. That means we tend to absorb everything from the way light moves through the trees, to the way a sentence can sound lyrical. It’s a lot and we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
Too often we reach a level of saturation where it’s just all too much. Or we absorb it and it changes us. We become more tolerant of things we never were. We become desensitized.
The alternative is to be curators.
According to an article in Fast Company by Steven Rosenbaum; “Curators come with an editorial objective, a point of view, and their own editorial voice. Sometimes curators are both writers and gatherers. Other times, curators will use their contextual point of view and perspective to organize material in a way that collectively creates a larger story.”
Curating our surroundings
Last weekend, I cleaned my art room. For months it’s been overwhelming me to even look at it. I would find myself wanting to grab something from it, and then not, because it was too hard to get to. I’d start to walk in, and then turn around and walk away.
The disorganization, the clutter, and all the leftover supplies of past projects were keeping me from being creative.
So I went to work redefining the space to fit who I am now, and who I want to be. The filter for what stays or goes is based on that vision. It’s a work in progress, but the idea is to create a curated space that encourages and inspires my creative vision going forward.
To calm and quiet our souls
That’s a physical example of curating a space, but I would argue that we need to curate our daily life as well. Recently, I heard a sermon that referenced Psalms 131:2. In the passage, David says he has learned to calm and quiet his soul. Like a weaned child is simply content in its mother’s arms. The minister was starting by limiting his own exposure to his phone.
My bottom line is that I know receiving news notifications from CNBC while I’m creating just divides my concentration. And knowing which celebrity shops at Walmart does nothing for my artistic vision.
How we can choose to be the curator of our life.
So how do we create our own lives? Like the dictionary definition above, we can use our own knowledge and discretion to select or present to our minds those things on the internet that we will use and enjoy.
We can also curate our free time. Spending an hour at a museum or a park may do more for your creative growth than those same hours spent binging on the news or that only-kind-of-good series on Netflix.
The really good series, however, is something we can purposefully choose to watch and enjoy. If it’s something that meets your criteria of what you will use or truly enjoy, then it’s worth considering.
Like most posts, this one is written to me as much as to you. So this week, maybe we can both start by being mindful of what we select and choose to let into our lives.
Love me a freebie or two!
As inspiration, I created a PDF/SVG for the verse from Psalms. It’s available free as a download in my Creative Resource Library. I’d love to have you grab it and put it someplace you can see it as an encouragement.
For more inspiration…
And if you are interested in watching the sermon that I mention above, here is the link to the first in the Morning, Noon, and Night series by Levi Lusko. I’ve also written a post on How to Practice Creative Self-Care that touches on ways to nurture your creative side.
Love it? Please share it!
If you found this article helpful, I’d love to have you share it! I’d also love to hear what you think about this topic. Have you ever actively thought about the difference between being an editor or curator in your own life? If you have any tips or tricks about this, I’d love to have you share it in a comment below!
Thanks for reading,