How to be an Artist: ideal to stop being an amateur or at least live a more creative life

Ideas on how to be an artist or have a more creative life
per Aline Anzzelotti

How to be an artist; it shouldn't be that easy to make a manual and follow, but art critic Jerry Saltz was able to come up with good ideas on this subject. But, there are steps to be taken as in all careers, and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism certainly has very relevant points of view.

In the Instagram era, people have a lot more power to reach and about their own professional life. With networks, the world has changed and art is no different. Andy Warhol is certainly the artist who would most understand the world we live in today. So, how does an artist manage to turn anything into art? And how does this art turn into good art?

Jerry gives us 33 ideas on how to be a real artist, and jokes that it could be 34 if you say, “Be kind, generous and open to others and take good care of your teeth. And yet, 35: Fake it till you make it ”, an expression in English that means more or less“ pretend until you get it ”.

Here I translated the most relevant ideas, but for those who want to search for all the critic's ideas, it is worth the research.

1- Don't be ashamed

I get it. Making art can be humiliating, terrifying, making you feel dirty, exposed, like being naked in front of someone else for the first time. You often reveal things about yourself that others may find terrifying, strange, boring, or stupid. People may think that you are abnormal or a scam. Well. When I work, I get sick with thoughts like None of this is good. It makes no sense. But art doesn't have to make sense. It doesn't even have to be good. So don't worry about being smart and stop being "good".

2 - Tell your own story and it will be interesting - Louise Bourgeois

Amen, Louise. Do not let yourself be controlled by other people's definitions of skill or beauty, nor let yourself be carried away by what is supposedly high or low. Don't be in the middle of your own path. Drawing inside the lines is for babies; making things right is something for accountants. Proficiency and dexterity are as good as what you do with them. But also remember that just because it’s your story, it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to an audience. You have to deserve this. Do not try to do this with a single large project. Take baby steps. And be happy with baby steps.

3 - Feel free to imitate

We all started out as imitators, people who pastiche other people's work. Well! Do it. However, when you do that, focus, start to feel the possibility of making all of these things your own - even when the ideas, tools and movements come from other artists. Whenever you do something, think of yourself as entering a gigantic stadium full of ideas, avenues, paths, means and materials. And possibilities. Do these things of yours. This is your home now.

4 - Art is not about understanding. Or about dominating.

It's about doing and experimenting.

Nobody asks what Mozart means. Or an Indian raga or the little dance by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to the sound of “Cheek to Cheek” in “O Picolino”. Forget about doing things that are understood. I don't know what Abba means, but I love them. Imagination is your creed; sentimentality and lack of feeling your enemy. All art comes from love - love for doing something.

5 - Work, Work, Work.

Sister Corita Kent said: “The only rule is work. If you work, it will lead to something. It is the people who do all the work all the time who eventually understand things. "

I tried in every way in the world to stop the moments of blocking at work or fear of working, of failing. There is only one method that works: work. And keep working.

Every artist and writer I know claims to work in his sleep. I do it all the time. Jasper Johns said the famous phrase: "One night, I dreamed that I painted a large American flag, and the next morning, I got up and bought the materials to get started." How many times have you had an entire career in your dreams and not listened to it? It doesn't matter how scared you are; everyone is scared. Work. Work is the only thing that takes the curse out of fear.

6 - Start with a pencil

Don't worry about drawing. Just make marks. Tell yourself that you are simply diagramming, playing, experimenting, seeing what looks like what. If you know how to write, you already know how to draw; you already have your own shape, a style of making letters and numbers and special doodles. These are forms of drawing as well.

While you are making marks and drawing, pay attention to all the physical feedback you are receiving from your hand, wrist, arm, ears, your sense of smell and touch. How long can your mark arrive before you need to lift the pencil and make a different mark? Make these marks shorter or longer. Change the way you do them, wrap your fingers in fabric to change your touch, try the other hand to see what you do. All of these things are saying something to you.

Be very quiet within yourself and pay attention to everything that you are experiencing. Don't think well or badly. Think useful, pleasant, strange. Hide secrets in your work. Dance with these experiences, collaborate with them. They are the guides; you follow. Soon, you'll also be creating steps, doing visual calculations on your own - clumsy, clumsy or not. Who cares? You will dance to the music of art. Always take a sketchbook with you.

7 - Develop ways to practice

For example, on the subway, while waiting, practice drawing your own hands. Many hands on the same page, hands over other hands. Other people's hands, if you want. You can draw other parts of your body that you can see as well. But you have to look and describe with your pencil or pen what you see. Do not invent! Mirrors are good, even if you want to draw just where your cheek turns into your mouth. Play with different scales, make things bigger, smaller, crooked.

8 - Now, define the skill

Artistic skill has nothing to do with technical proficiency, mimetic accuracy or so-called good drawing. For each great artist, there is a different definition of skill. Take drawing lessons if you wish; learn to draw “like the masters”. You still have to do this in an original way. Pollock did not know how to draw realistically, but he did a quick movement of paint on an overhead canvas, for a while, the most valuable skill in the art world. You can do the same - your skill will be whatever you are doing differently.

9 - Incorporate thought into the material

"Incorporate thought into the material." What does that mean? An object must express ideas; art must contain emotions. And those ideas and feelings must be easy to understand - complex or not.

10 - Find your own voice

Find and exaggerate your voice.
If someone says that your work looks like someone else's and you should stop doing it, I say, don't stop doing it. Do this again. Do this 100 or 1,000 times. Next, ask an artist friend you trust if your work still looks a lot like someone else's art. If it still looks a lot like the other person, try another path.

11- Hear the crazy voices inside your head

I have my own type of School of Athens in my head. A team of rivals, friends, famous people, living and dead influences. They are all looking over my shoulder while I work; none of them are bad. Everyone makes observations, recommendations, etc. I use a lot of music. I think, ok, let's start this piece with a real pow! Like Beethoven. Or Barbara Kruger in my head says: Make this sentence short, energetic, declarative, aggressive. Led Zeppelin interrupted: Try a hairy experiment here; let it all appear.

All the paintings of Siena that I have ever seen beg me: Make it beautiful. DH Lawrence is hitting the table hard, Alexander Pope is making me control, Wallace Stevens listens to my tongue and recommends words, Whitman pushes me, my inner Melville gets big and Proust makes me do more and more phrases until they almost break, and my editor cuts in octaves or edits in one. (Writers need editors. No exceptions.) These voices will always be there when things get tough.

12 - Compare cats to dogs

Okay, that sounds ridiculous, but call your dog and he'll come right up to you, laying his head on your lap, drooling, wagging his tail: a miraculous direct communication with another species. Now call your cat. He can look up, squirm a little, maybe go to the couch, rub himself on it, move around once and lie down again. What am I saying?

When you see how the cat reacted, you are seeing something very close to how artists communicate.

The cat is not interested in direct communication. The cat places a third thing between you and it and relates to you through that third thing. Cats communicate abstractly, indirectly. As Carol Bove says, "You can't just get to beauty and kiss it on the mouth!" Artists are cats. (And they cannot be grouped.)

Kidney Chiaradia

13 - Observe as much as you can

Critics see from behind, getting close, taking a step up and back; see a complete show, compare one work to another; considering the artist's previous work, evaluating developments, repetitions, regressions, failures, lack of originality; etc.

Artists see it very differently: they get very close to a work; they inspect every detail, its textures, materials, makeup; they touch it, look at the edges and around the back of the object.

What are the artists doing? They will say: "Seeing how it is done". I would say, “Theft.” You can steal anything. You must! You are the best! Bad art teaches as much as good art. Maybe more! Great art is often the enemy of good art; does not leave enough space to steal.

14 - Accept that you are likely to be poor

Even if everything we see in the art world today is astronomical prices, brilliance, glamor and addictive behavior, remember that only 1% of 1% by all artists get rich with their works of art. You may feel overlooked, underestimated and underpaid. What a pity. Stop feeling sorry for yourself; that’s not why you’re making art.

15 - Define success

But be careful. Typical answers are money, happiness, freedom, “doing what I want”, having a community of artists, making people see what I do.

But… if you marry a rich person and have a lot of money, will you be satisfied with just the money? In addition, the Subway cafeteria sells a lot of sandwiches, but that doesn't make them good.

16 - Artists need to be vampires

Stay up late every night with other artists your age. Show yourself. Go to openings, events, parties, wherever there are more than two of its kind.

Artists must commune with their own species at all times. There are no exceptions to this rule, even if you live “in the forest”. Preferably, communion in person, but online is more than good. It doesn't matter where you live: big city, small city. You will fight and love together; you will develop new languages together and provide each other with comfort, conversation and strength to continue. This is how you will change the world - and your art.

17 - Learn to deal with rejection

Stephen King's first and most renowned book, Carrie, was rejected 30 times. King threw away the first pages of the book. His wife rummaged through the trash, rescued them and persuaded him to continue writing. The Beatles were rejected by Decca Records, which believed that "guitar groups are in decline" and "The Beatles have no future in show business".

But don't just ignore the criticism. Instead, keep your rejection letters; stick them on the wall. They are goads, things to prove them wrong. You can be Ahab about these negative criticisms, but don't let yourself be overwhelmed by them; they don't define you.

18 - Be a Delusional Artist

At three in the morning, the demons speak to all of us. I'm old and they still talk to me every night. And every day.

They say that you are not good enough, you did not study in the right schools, you are stupid, you do not know how to draw, you do not have enough money, you are not original; that what you do doesn't matter, and who cares, and you don't even know art history, and you can't talk, and you have a bad neck. They say that you are pretending, that other people see through you, that you are lazy, that you do not know what you are doing and that you are doing it just to get attention or money.

I have a solution to ward off these demons: after beating yourself for half an hour or more, stop and say out loud: "Yes, but I am a fucking genius."

You are, NOW. Art is for anyone, but not everyone is for art. These rules are your tools. Now use them to change the world. Go to work!

"Andy Warhol"
Ideas on how to be an artist and have a creative life

Ideas on how to be an artist and have a creative life

No one has an exact manual to awaken the artist who lives within us. We are the only ones who can do this and these are just ideas that can help in the process. But, never forget that the key to your life is found only and exclusively within you.

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Amazing !!!!!! Thank you for publishing this great text about art and about someone who understands very well how an artist's head works

  • Bruna Regina Mendes maximum
    September 21, 2020 5:46 PM

    The text portrays in a versatile and unique way about the adversities of being an artist and even a little bit of the psychological frustration that the lack of creativity brings to the days of an artist (lack of encouragement, demotivation and even the absence of people and places that provides artistic experience). The text is very specific and comments on some very important aspects, making anyone who reads it wants to try and try something new. I LOVED


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