Making art is the big thing I'm doing with my life. It's what I'm leaving behind, and what I've put the most hours into becoming good at. But like most things, there's no manual for making art, and probably no right way to do it even if there was. But, for what it's worth, here's what I've learned along the way.
I never know what's going to happen. Sometimes characters say things I don't expect. The brush moves to an area I hadn't planned. My lens is drawn to a different subject. For me, art is as much archeology as creation. I need let the piece be what it needs to be, and get out of the way.
Will people like it? Hate it? Send me unhelpful comments or emails that put me in a tailspin because seriously who writes that to a stranger? I'll never know. It's totally out of my control. Pieces that I thought were meh turned out to be huge. Pieces I thought were spectacular were niche. I never know what's going to connect, and I probably never will.
Picasso's blue period is regarded as his finest. But to him, it was just a set of experiments, explorations. Only after it was done did anyone have a sense of it. Keep experimenting. Keep exploring.
If we want to be great writers, read. A lot. Same for photography and film-making and dance. Consume great art over and over and over. We are what we eat.
If we want to be great writers, write. A lot. Same for painting and game-making and sculpture. Keep making, keep honing our skills.
The best art lies at the intersection of great skill and an exceptional experience. We don't get to know when that experience is coming. Be ready.
Know who we're writing to, painting to, singing to. That specificity will let us connect, and make for better work. But make it sustainable. There are always trolls. Don't feed them.
Give our art first crack at our best, most capable time. First thing in the morning. When ideas show up in the shower. Carve out consistent, quality time for making work, and drop everything when it needs our attention. The work has to come first.
Putting work out is scary. But it is the most important thing. How many people do you know who have that book they're going to write, someday? Write it. Paint it. Put it out there.
Find artists who we like and respect and who inspire us, and get together and talk art. Learn from each other, encourage each other. Making art can be really difficult and really lonely. It's easier together.
Read what we wrote. Watch our own films. Listen to our songs. We know my work better than anyone. We know what we were trying to create, and we know where we hit and missed the mark. Understand what's working and what's not, and use it to improve our game.
We are the only judge of our work that matters. Sometimes, a new set of eyes can spot something we missed. Sometimes, they're just dumping their shit all over our work. Listen to what people are saying, but don't accept it as truth. This is our work. They can make their own.
Art comes from experience, and experience isn't only sitting in our bedrooms. Get out into the world, have full rich experiences, and let them inform our work.
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