Studio Insights by Michael David Sturlin –The Importance of Purpose


Many things we do in life have purpose. But, this in itself doesn’t imply that we always see all of them as particularly purposeful at the moment of doing them. In fact, we might often wonder, “Why do I have to do this?”

Purpose2Some of the things we do are just necessary activities of our everyday human existence. Those tend to be the unavoidable things that are part and parcel of daily life; household chores, school and family activities, work related tasks. There are a myriad of things that simply have to be done. They may not always be our favorite things. But, since they have to be accomplished anyway, realizing their necessity as we do them makes them a bit more purposeful and easier to tend to.

Other things are entertaining and relaxing and serve the purpose of enjoyment or diversion. They may be a distraction from the unavoidable tasks and often their purpose is relieving us from tedium, or rewarding us for performing our necessary chores. These are easier to do.

Observing the how and why of an activity and thinking about its purpose and result helps us realize the benefit we derive from doing it. As we realize the benefit of each thing we can more fully appreciate the real value of the seemingly unimportant activities.

This insightful observation enables us to find enjoyment and contentment that would otherwise be absent from many mundane activities. This is especially true with many of the activities that go into jewelry making. Not every aspect of the process is our favorite one or the most enjoyable part of making things. The deeper we look into the process of making, the better our understanding of the entirety of the process. This in turn enhances our perception of the whole process, not just the separate portions.

Granted, there are endless numbers of the small aspects of jewelry making which many find tedious or odious, but each of them is equally important to the successful conclusion of the process. As we learn to appreciate what each step contributes to the end result, we can more easily find pleasure in simple actions. Realizing the purposeful nature of all of the activities makes those that are not our favorites more doer-friendly.

purposeThe majority of makers will say they find the most fulfillment in the making itself, and don’t especially like the business activities of maintaining their studio practice. All of the counting and accounting, inventory, record keeping, pricing and promotional aspects of business require a lot of time and energy. Without these activities we don’t really have a business, so if we decide to look at the necessity and purpose of the non-creative part of being an artist, we can see our time invested as more essential and more purposeful. This can aid us in enjoying the parts that aren’t our favorites by realigning our viewpoint.

Often we can benefit from looking at what these things enable. If we do the tedious and repetitious parts of any activity with the right attitude and enthusiasm it allows us to get to the favored part more quickly. Doing the background and stage-setting activities with the conscious appreciation of their essential contribution to the final process makes our work more fully invested and elevates the quality of what we make.

As makers of things, many of us are able to find our greatest purpose through our artistic expression. The dedicated interaction of tool and material allows us to bring something outward from within ourselves and connect with others. This the tangible benefit of being a maker of things. This is what fuels our creativity and recharges our artistic batteries.

The process of individual artistic expression through dedicated activity is the real work of the studio practice. Developing our skill and ability to be expressive in a way that contributes not only to ourselves, but that speaks to others, is finding purposefulness in what we do.

Author: Michael David Sturlin is a studio jewellery artist, educator, writer, consultant and award winning goldsmith who shares his insight and expertise with students at all levels through hands-on workshops, retreats, lectures and individual instruction.


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