5 Things I Want To See From Artists

8 Mile
8 Mile

Some of you are artists. Musicians or writers, painters or whatever. I don’t really know.

You might not know what you want to put out into the world. I know I don’t. It’s a paralysis. I’m torn between laziness and fear. I don’t have the time to produce. And if I do? I’m scared, unsure. The things I know I can do are rarely worth doing, and the things I’m not sure I can do…well, the answer sounds obvious in print. I’m supposed to do those things, to write those plays and books and stories and those pieces McSweeny’s hasn’t rejected yet.

But I don’t. That’s the thing about life. It’s always easier on paper, and human weakness, as universal as it is, can be so baffling and terrible in person.

So: getting that out of the way, what do I want to see from you, the anonymous artist?

1. Something That’s You.

God, the last thing I want is to see your impression of what you think art is. I know what art is supposed to be. We all do. But repeating that is like reading a translation of a translation; something is lost and nothing is gained but the clumsy sorrow of the imprecise.

So; be you.

You might be sick of you. I’m sick of me. But it’s the only thing you can be that nobody else can. And, when you perfect the parts of you that are you, those gains will be sincere.

2. Something Conversational.

I want something that speaks, that lives conversational and true. That doesn’t mean dumbed down- a lot of conversation is smart- but it has to be earned. I don’t want you throwing together a bunch of colors and asking me what I think it means. I don’t care about fancy words and sentences chock full of commas and obscurity. I care about an idea, well presented. That, to me, is art.

3. Something Sincere

If I have to see another fucking painting that’s just an empty frame like “HUH, MAKES YOU THINK???” I am going to lose it.

We’re past ironic detachment. Clever winking removal is a cop-out.

You want to hedge your bets? Be a critic.You want to make something? Risk it. Get it done.

4. Something You Made Without Kickstarter

Limitations breed productivity. It’s the struggle against boundaries that makes art work. It’s the 140 character limit that makes Twitter work. So if you’re talking about money, beyond the essentials, I roll my eyes at you.

Is that really what’s stopping you?

Make something the best you can within your budget. Worry about mastery when you’re a master.

As always, get it done.

5. Whatever You’d Want To Do Anyway

Here’s the thing.

I might not ever want to see what you make.

Ask the Youtube spammers who PROMISE I’ll love the song they’re linking on this Earl Sweatshirt playlist. They PROMISE I won’t regret it. This is tailored JUST FOR ME! If they get ONE LISTEN that’s all they need.

That’s pathetic. But for a different reason than you think.

They should need zero.

It’s not pathetic to want to share what you made. It’s certainly not pathetic to care; I’d never spite that. But what bothers me is that desperation to make me think I want that. The spam correlates my caring with their success. And, yes; there’s a commercial correlation there. But this spammer is never going to get that success. Or, rather, if they do, it will be for a different reason. That, almost by accident, their music was good.

If a spammer is desperate for me to like it, they’re going to be disappointed. I’m not going to click it.

But if the spammer cares about themselves? If they do it because they love it? Well, they aren’t going to be disappointed because the audience response- the part they can’t control- no longer matters to them.

Look; it’s aspirational to seek your own approval. But it’s equally aspirational to desperately court fans. And only the first one will make you better, truer, and happier as an artist. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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