ON BEING AN ARTIST

 

lolipop trees

lolipop trees

Being an Artist:

The one thing that really matters when it comes to being an artist is the making of art.

I’ve always appreciated simple things: The perfect cappuccino. A good pair of jeans. A room in which open spaces are as important as the things filling it. I’m not that good at producing that kind of elegant art but I appreciate it just the same. Something in my nature wants to boil complicated things down to the elements.

Bearing that in mind, here is my 7 point guide to being an artist:

1. Be a person first:

Talent is not something to be proud of: It’s something to use. If you have talent consider yourself lucky and use it with an attitude of gratefulness and happiness. Having talent is not a ticket to live above the rest of humanity: It’s simply a way for you to relate to and possibly uplift humanity.  Never forget that your development as a person is just as important as your development as an artist.

2.  What you create isn’t for everyone.

Quit looking for acceptance and validation from others. You can’t let negative feedback or no feedback keep you from continuing to produce art. You also can’t let positive feedback pigeon-hole you and prevent you from trying new things.

No matter what you make, some people will love it and some people won’t. Worrying about who likes what and why is a road that leads to disengagement from the creative heart and soul of who you are.

Trust your own ability to judge the merit of your work and never stop learning or trying to improve. Never stop creating.

3.  The Long View.

For me it’s helpful to imagine the portfolio of work I will leave behind if I simply continue to dutifully create art consistently for the rest of my life. That image is powerful to me and it keeps me creating.

Keep at it. Every day.

4.  Forget About Money

Believe it or not success isn’t measured in money. The most revered artists are often people who make very little or no money from their art. In the universe of creative people, those who get to make money from their art are a select few. What’s more, those who do, often find that that particular kind of success has it’s own particular kind of challenges and problems. It’s not a bad thing to be able to make money from your art but whether you do or you don’t isn’t going to solve all your problems and shouldn’t determine your willingness to continue creating art.

Most artists begin because the act of creating something does something much more powerful for them personally than money could ever do. Get back to that and stick with it and do what you have to do to pay the bills.

5.  What CAN you do?

Focusing on resources that you don’t have kills creativity. Steadfastly moving forward using what you do have available actually increases creativity and sometimes leads to a better end result. Obstacles and opportunities are two sides of the same coin. Forget the Cant Dos and the Don’t Haves and focus instead on what you can do and what you do have.

6.  Let It Go.

There’s a time for practicing; honing your skill and perfecting your craft. There’s a time for holing up and working feverishly on your project. And there’s a time to finish it and show it off to the world. Maybe that means getting on a stage and playing live. Maybe that means releasing your album. Maybe that means letting the world scrutinize your painting. Maybe that means letting people read your book. At some point, if you’re going to move on and get better at what you do, you have to give your work wings and set if free. Maybe you’ve created the next Mona Lisa and maybe you’ve created a stepping stone to your next project in which you “get it right this time”. Either way, you’ll never really know until you let it go.

7.  Make Art.

Just Make Art. The one thing that really matters when it comes to being an artist is the making of art.

 

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