An Artist’s Manifesto

Unsplash / Volkan Olmez
Unsplash / Volkan Olmez

Do it with intention. Find the door marked “Apprentice’s Welcome Here” and be a beginner. Start anywhere – as long as you start.

Decide that you want it more than you’re afraid of it. Just tell you your story. Keep child-like faith to keep it simple, with adult intention to get the job done.

The idea that you have about yourself expresses itself through the work. If you do not believe in yourself, in your story, in the things that you can contribute to this world, your work will apologize for itself and will never look or sound or taste or feel the way you wanted it to. There’s a shortcut to killing it: believe you will.

Curiosity did not kill the cat.

Art isn’t created by the artist alone. If a tree falls in the forest and there’s nobody there to hear it, does it really make a sound? If the artist makes his work and nobody else sees it, was it really ever art at all? Share what you make. Not for approval, not for affirmation, but for the simple act of adding to the dialogue. Don’t create in a vacuum. You are not a solo mountain – you are a tree in a creative forest, and your roots must meet those of others.

Fucking trust yourself.

Risk going too far. Risk fucking it all up. Risk upsetting people – risk upsetting yourself. Take a chance of the voice that says, tell this story. Persist.

“Success” is what you do every day. Success is not the approval of others – and especially not the approval of those who do not make their own art. Success is, “Fuck off, I’m doing it anyway.” Success is continuing. Success is 1,000 shitty drafts because the 1,001 draft could be gold.

The artist must promise himself he will try. That you will commit to doing the thing you said you would do, for the act of doing it. Your value is not attached to this thing – but your value is absolutely in it. There’s a difference.

Find your tribe, because you become like the people you spend your time with. In conversation we come away spiritually stronger, or we come away spiritually weaker. Choose your friends carefully, then. Build a support system of people creating their dreams and drink their courage. Find solace in not being alone. In being one of many. You’re not special.

Allow yourself to be changed. Allow yourself to be the change. Our brain isn’t something that dictates who we are from birth. It’s a cultural engine, whose function is to absorb new information from its surroundings and learn new skills and ideas and be happy and sad and crazy and inspired. Take responsibility. Shoulder the burden of your need to make things, and do it. All power is within you; you can do anything, everything, and exactly what you want. And so you should.

We have more than one self, and must be loyal to them all.

Flip the middle bird at failure when you screw up – because you will screw up. That’s what being an artist is: making mistakes, carrying on, revealing the beauty in the fuck up. Only you know how to do it your way.

Everyone has something they can teach you.

And please: keep on. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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