When it comes to artists, there are certain undeniable truths. Not fact, but truth. And by “truth”, I’m taking in very relativistic terms. Why? Because a “truth” for an artist may not necessarily reflect the by-the-book definition of truth held by society as a whole.
Even so, the artist is always, always…ALWAYS…in search of their truth. During that search, the heart and soul of the creature tends to be pulled through trials and tribulations the average human probably wouldn’t quite understand.
If you are such a beast, then I have a list of things you must start doing immediately. If not, that artist soul of yours could wither into a fetid mess of goo.
Let’s with the things, shall we? We shall.
Try a different medium
This is non-negotiable. If you are an actor, you must try to write. If you are a writer, you must try to act. If you are a singer…why not give dancing a go. Thing is, when artists attempt to bleed their hearts into a different medium, they see art from a different perspective and will return to their craft of choice with a new-found passion and understanding. Before every actor tries their hand a writing, there are no hard and fast rules for this. Actors can try dancing (the body, after all, is one of your tools). Writers could try and sing. The possibilities of crossover are endless!
Play, damn it
At the core of every artist, no matter the age, is a child. If you do not let that child out to play, that child will grow old and bitter. Every chance you get, open your eyes child-wide and play, play, play. Next time you pass by a swing, get on it. You see an open field? Cartwheels. Video games? Hell yeah. Whatever you can do to exercise that inner child is food for your soul.
Sing me a song
Stop holding back. I don’t care how horrific your voice is, as an artist you owe it to yourself to sing every chance you get. Remember what Shakespeare said:
If music be the food of life, play on!
Take the Bard’s advice and let loose.
Take a chance
Stop being so cautious with your art. Don’t follow formulas and don’t create only what you think the public wants. As an artist, you owe it to yourself to create what you want. If you aren’t enjoying the process of creation, then you are doing it wrong and you will fail. Go outside the lines…WAY outside the lines. To hell with the norm. Create a genre, start from the sky downward, paint with your eyes closed. Do. Something. Different. If you live your artist life afraid of taking a chance, you’ll never touch genius.
Stop being afraid of failure
You will fail.
You weren’t listening.
You WILL fail.
That is as inevitable as someone thanking God or Liza Minnelli at the Tony’s. You cannot be afraid of failure. Why? Because if you live your life afraid to fail, you’ll never soar like Icarus. Look failure in its oil-black eyes and dare it to take you down. See every failure as a chance to grow.
Push yourself harder
You think you’re pushing yourself hard? Your not. Remember this…there is always someone better than you and the only way you can best your superiors is by pushing yourself beyond any limit you thought imaginable. Push yourself every day. Never be satisfied with your work and always, always, always try to improve on what you last created. This does mean you must reflect on your previous work with as unbiased an eye as possible. If this sounds harsh, it is. Artists are their own worst critics…problem, they’ll beat themselves up for something, only to wind up consoling themselves. Don’t console. Push.
See the world around you
Much to the chagrin of the populous, artists tend to be a reclusive, introverted bunch. Because of that, they tend to not truly see the world around them. That’s too bad, because out there is a world of inspiration. If you want to be true to your soul, you need to step outside and look…really look. Allow yourself to be moved by nature, shocked by humankind, and touched by everything. Your emotions must be available to you and you to them. Once you start honestly looking at the world around you, your eyes and your heart will sync up and see a much deeper truth.
Take a break
At some point, you’re going to find yourself against an immovable force called a brick wall. That’s when your mind and your heart are exhausted and need a break. You may think you create best when you’re facing utter exhaustion, but you’re wrong. Your brain needs to be rebooted every so often…even an artist’s brain. Between shows, between books, between concertos…give yourself permission to refuel before you burn out.
Laugh at yourself
If you cannot laugh at yourself, you don’t have the right to laugh at others. But that’s not the real reason you need to chuckle, chortle, and guffaw at the reflection in the mirror. You really just need to stop taking every single moment of every single day so damned seriously. Laugh something off now and again. Trust me, it’s good for the soul. Laugh and the world laughs with you.
Why yes, yes I do.
Don’t be a dick
I shouldn’t have to say this, but I find it more and more necessary with every passing day. Life is hard…for everyone. If you’re making it harder (for yourself and those around you), then you’re doing it all very wrong. Stop being a dick. Period. Stop doing things out of petty jealousy or from the fear of becoming irrelevant. You’re an artist, it is part of your job description to put positive energy out in the world. When you’re busy being a dick, the only thing coming out of you is…
Let’s not go there.
There you have it, my lovely artists…ten things you need to start doing (or start not doing) right away.