I see a lot of artists who just want to become artists. They believe novels simply get written, or that somehow they’ll magically get better at this. Many are reluctant to explore new possibilities or try new techniques… but that doesn’t make much sense.
I believe art to be the only reasonable way for us to venture beyond the limitations of our own world, and by doing so we reach the very essence of our humanity. We always feel close to figuring out some elusive answer to life’s most profound questions. Of course, we never do so, and that’s what keeps us going.
The thing is, we, as artists, we need to understand what makes us tick… all the mechanisms and gauges and levers that makes us who we are. So we need to experience life, we need to live it, absorb it, observe it, listen to it… yeah, simply staring out of the window, asking yourself stupid questions about strangers you’ll never meet again, that’s one way of finding most people will never even look for.
Now, how exactly do you live life? What’s the difference between that and merely existing? Well, being aware. Being fully aware about what’s going on around you, inside your mind, inside other people’s minds. Don’t just put yourself on auto-pilot… or flash-forward. Don’t live in the future, but rather ask yourself why is it that you feel compelled to do certain things…
So if you find yourself asking too many questions during a day… that’s kind of good thing actually.
Then there’s the part about experience. Make mistakes. Get hurt. See places, meet people. You know, explore as much as possible, and as soon as possible. Go as far away from your comfort zone, from that bubble we build to make us feel safe about life, and just let life happen. It often tends to do so.
Another crucial aspect is absorbing art. All kinds of it. If you write, dunno, historical novels, don’t just read the writers in your own genre. Read everything, even books that you hate. Especially those books, because they’ll teach you how not to write. Also, watch movies, stare at paintings, listen to music, go to the theater once in a while.
And that’s how you get inspired… because other people’s art is simply life translated in a language that’s eerily similar to yours, yet entirely different. Absorbing art is like finding a new perspective of things you’ve stared at for your entire life. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll eventually see things you never even dared imagine.
Don’t compare, don’t patronize, don’t hate, just absorb. As much as possible. There’s really no other way of getting this wrong, because even if you’re afraid that staring at a bunch of other artists doing the same thing you do will influence you somehow… you’ll never be able to do the things they do in the same manner unless you consciously try to do so.
And, finally, about love.
They say art never comes out of happiness, but it requires love. Most often, if you hate something and you’re trying to make people realize that… you might actually love the opposite. Also, love is one of most powerful feelings. Not just people, but also places, events, and pretty much everything else in this world.
We make art because we are capable of love. We can feel our surroundings, not only touch them or see them or smell them or whatever. We can feel them on a level that doesn’t really make much sense. It’s like… some people choose to think that they’re sad because it’s raining outside, while others believe that it’s raining because they’re sad.
Two entirely different ways of feeling about a particular event.
And this leads me to my final point: all of this… living life, absorbing art, falling in love at all the wrong times and in the strangest of places will eventually set you free, and in doing so will allow you to feel as if you can actually change this world. That the art you’re creating is a piece of this world, a tiny fraction of this infinite Universe that didn’t use to exist. Important or not, it doesn’t matter.
You kind of understand your role as an artist when you realize that even the most insignificant of events can trigger a chain of reactions that will ultimately lead to you making a piece of art.