Here in Charlottesville, our volunteer-run downtown theatre Live Arts, puts on several high-quality productions per year. One play we saw last year, Superior Donuts, was an emotional roller-coaster, and we left the play with strong feelings toward the depicted characters. The other night, we attended a performance of Clybourne Park, leaving the performance feeling much less but thinking more.

Both plays were of exceptional quality and we enjoyed them both. But it got us wondering about how we felt about each of the plays after the fact. With Superior Donuts, we were left with an indelible emotional mark on our psyche. With Clybourne Park on the other hand, we left feeling not much at all, but had lots to talk about on an intellectual level.

Given these were both creative endeavors, it made me consider thinking vs. feeling when our clients interact with us. Many artists would tell you, and I agree, that it’s important for people viewing your work to feel something. It’s insufficient to be a viewer and not have a strong opinion about the work. it could be positive or negative, that’s not the point. But at least the viewer has feelings about it. It’s how we appreciate the art in our lives.

So when you sit down to create your art, whether you’re a stationer, a photographer, an event designer, a painter, or any myriad of possibilities, are you merely creating work that will make people think, or are you making them feel?

To catalyze feeling is the goal. And emotion is the primary reason a client will commission you to create art for them.