How to Steal like an Artists is great advice for anyone who wants to know how to “be” an artist. It’s straight forward, heartfelt, and true.
1. Steal like an artist – nothing is original.
- An artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: hoarders collect indiscriminately, the artist collects selectively. They only collect things that they really love.
- There’s an economic theory out there that if you take the incomes of your five closest friends and average them, the resulting number will be pretty close to your own income.
- I think the same thing is true of our idea incomes. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.
- Identify one writer you really love. Find everything they’ve ever written. Then find out what they read. And read all of that. Climb up your own family tree of writers.
- Steal things and save them for later. Carry around a sketchpad. Write in your books. Tear things out of magazines and collage them in your scrapbook.
2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to make things – Or Fake it till you make it.
- The book Just Kids by Patti Smith is a story about how two friends moved to New York and learned to be artists. You know how they learned to be artists? They pretended to be artists. I’ll spoil the book for you and describe my favorite scene, the turning scene in the book: Patti Smith and her friend Robert Maplethorpe dress up in all their gypsy gear and they go to Washington Square, where everybody’s hanging out, and this old couple kind of gawks at them, and the woman says to her husband, “Oh, take their picture. I think they’re artists.” “Oh, go on,” he shrugged. “They’re just kids.”
- The point is: all the world’s a stage. You need a stage and you need a costume and you need a script. The stage is your workspace. It can be a studio, a desk, or a sketchbook. The costume is your outfit, your painting pants, or your writing slippers, or your funny hat that gives you ideas. The script is just plain old time. An hour here, or an hour there. A script for a play is just time measured out for things to happen. Fake it ’til you make it.
3. Write the book you want to read.
- The best way to find the work you should be doing is to think about the work you want to see done that isn’t being done, and then go do it.
- Draw the art you want to see, make the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read.
4. Use your Hands.
- Find a way to bring your body into your work. Draw on the walls. Stand up when you’re working. Spread things around the table.
5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
- One thing I’ve learned in my brief tenure as an artist: it’s the side projects that blow up. By side projects I mean the stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens.
- So the lesson is: take time to mess around. Have a hobby. It’s good for you, and you never know where it may lead you…
6. The Secret: Do good work and put it where people can see it.
- Step one, “do good work,” is incredibly hard. There are no shortcuts. Make stuff every day. Fail. Get better.
- Step two, “put it where people can see it,” was really hard up until about 10 years ago. Now, it’s very simple: “put your stuff on the internet.”
- What’s the secret of the internet?
- Step 1: Wonder at something.
- Step 2: Invite others to wonder with you.
- You should wonder at the things nobody else is wondering about. If everybody’s wondering about apples, go wonder about oranges.
- One of the things I’ve learned as an artist is that the more open you are about sharing your passions, the more people love your art. Artists aren’t magicians. There’s no penalty for revealing your secrets.
7. Geography is no longer our master
8. Be Nice. the world is a small town.
- Kurt Vonnegut said it best: “There’s only one rule I know of: goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
- The golden rule is even more golden in our hyper-connected world.
- An important lesson to learn: if you talk about someone on the internet, they will find out. Everybody has a Google alert on their name.
- The best way to vanquish your enemies on the internet? Ignore them.
- The best way to make friends on the internet? Say nice things about them.
9. Be Boring. It’s the only way to get work done.
- As Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” The thing is: art takes a lot of energy to make. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.
- Take care of yourself
- Stay out of debt
- Get a day job and keep it
- Get yourself a calendar and a logbook.
10. Creativity is subtraction
- It’s often what an artist chooses to leave out that makes the art interesting. What isn’t shown vs. what is.
- In this age of information overload and abundance, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s important to them.
More awesomeness here: How To Steal Like An Artist And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me.