On Artistry

I made a little video essay about the trials and tribulations of being an artist. I’ll include a transcript below for those of you who prefer to read:

If you want to be an artist, you must harden your heart utterly to failure, humiliation, boredom, tedium, and most crucially disappointment. Your best friends will not care. Your work will not be seen by anyone. No one will come to your shows. Sometimes for years. Sometimes for decades.

No one will buy your book. No one will come look at your paintings. They’re not laughing with you… they’re laughing at you.

You must accept that you suck. Yes, you do. You forget your lines. You’re off key. That doesn’t look right. You missed a spot, right… there. You have to learn to hear or see or taste or feel or smell how badly you suck, so you can practice the suck away.

Cuz Yeah, you’re gunna have to practice a lot. Late into the night. Or maybe wake up early in the morning. Can you sneak in some editing on your lunch break? Tighten up your shading in your notebook in math class. Practice instead of watching tv. Practice instead of going out with your friends. Practice instead of going on out on dates.

But You must remain ever vigilant, because you’ll be swindled, screwed, backstabbed, and cheated. Your tuba will be stolen. The venue owner will forget to pay you. The show offer is a scam. Artists don’t make very much money, but everyone wants to make money from artists. They know we’re passionate. That means we’re gullible.

So you gotta learn to get those big, beautiful, wonderful, terrifying emotions under control. Your longings will go unfulfilled. You will feel anxious, nervous, awkward, ugly, stupid, weird, and shy. You’ll get stage fright. Performance anxiety. The yips. Butterflies in your stomach. Flop sweat. You’ll feel jeolous. Overworked and broke.

And yet you must have contingency plans and spares and back ups and extras, because you will learn the true meaning of entropy. The universe is merciless. It wants to destroy everything you hold dear. Your hard drive will crash. Your strings will break. You’ll drop your sculpture taking it out of the kiln.

And your male lead is gunna get laryngitis. And the drummer is drunk… again.

Don’t forget to make a Facebook event. Print out flyers, hand out business cards, post the video on Reddit, put the song on Soundcloud. Hopefully, someone will retweet it… right?

And after you deal with all of that… it’s the best thing ever.