As artists, we’re constantly looking for new ways to craft better art that pushes the boundaries of what we’ve produced previously. Complacency has no room to flourish in the artistic mind. To think outside of the box isn’t quite as simple as flicking on a light switch (oh, how I wish it was!). Creativity has a lot to do with your perspective. What you decide to paint, record and sculpt has obvious ties to who you are as a person.

We want to challenge you in the Engage Art Contest to push your perspective and engage with cultures you hadn’t considered could be fruitful. As artists, we want to create some of the best pieces of art this world has ever seen, and it’s critical that we open our eyes and breathe in a wider array of what this world has to offer.

Seen Like Never Before

A reputation is easy to earn and hard to shake off. Consciously engaging with different cultures can loosen the reigns and allow you to experience different countries, tastes, and opinions with fresh eyes. These days, when you attend a university, you’ll be required to take a few courses that survey the world that isn’t within five miles. Yelp is of no use and Wikipedia barely skims the surface. These courses require a deep dive into different cultures that will make you a more well-rounded individual who has knowledge of people who are strikingly different than you.

So, let’s consider this for a moment: Why does the art of learning seem to cease after graduation? The simple answer is that it’s easier to stay in our boxes. But boxes aren’t for artists — artistry requires you to venture. You can’t make art for the world without knowing anything of it. I’m not saying you should quit your job and tour the world, as good as that sounds. We can engage with culture right from our homes, offices and cities. It’s simply going to take some commitment.

Right in your Backyard

Most large cities have a staggering amount of diversity that can easily go unnoticed. We would encourage you to seek out diverse people who might have grown up differently, see this world differently or are just plain unique in your eyes. Perspective is priceless. Be open to learning about a worldview that you might not have noticed.

In return, you can offer your perspective during a friendly conversation. The critical ingredient is mutual respect. We aren’t looking to debate what’s going on in the news or address hot-button topics. We’re focused on discovering what has made them who they are. This new perspective can broaden who you are, and that might influence your next art project.

When the Internet is your Friend

If you’re too much of an introvert or don’t live in a diverse area, that’s perfectly okay because you live in the age of the internet. There are thousands upon thousands of books, movies, articles, podcasts and everything you can think of that pertain to topics you know little about. Artists are continual students, and it’s essential to retain an attitude of learning and curiosity when you’re trying to push the boundaries and create something new. You might even have to get outside your comfort zone.

One common misperception is that engaging with culture will change your values and morals. It doesn’t have to. You know who you are and a little bit of knowledge is unlikely to flip your entire worldview upside down. However, it might shift the way you perceive the people and society around you. It might help you be more compassionate. Having a more cultured worldview doesn’t mean accepting every different opinion that’s thrown at you, but rather, being aware of how people are different than you.

So when you’re looking for some free professional development, talk with as many people as you can. Read plenty of books and watch lots of movies. Through these things, you may get just a taste of what life is like to walk in someone else’s shoes.