If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
– Vincent Van Gogh
What Leaping Means for Artists
You are an artist. You write. You play an instrument. You sculpt. You paint.
You do that well and you know it.
Are you making a living doing art? Why not?
Leaping into the unknown, for an artist, means giving it a real go. You’ve known you’ve been talented since day 1 and you gifts have increased as you’ve learned more and worked hard. And yet, you look at your body of work and ask, “Why am I not a successful artist?”
Have You Leapt?
Leaping into the unknown means you are invested into excellence. It means you are investing time, effort and resources into your work. Some might consider you obsessive and they might be right. If all you are doing is clocking in, clocking out, then do a gut-check. Are you an artist?
I have many talented friends who are undiscovered. Mostly these are writers, but there are a few visual artists as well. Too often, they moan about remaining unnoticed or unsure if the world despises their work.
Meanwhile, I have friends whose writing I think is mediocre who are quite successful. They have published a bevy of books, have written a pile of articles, and they’ve made a good thing off of banal writing.
It also means pushing your medium or genre. Look carefully at your symbols. Are they cliche?
The difference is risk and hard work.
Hard work, in a sense, in and of itself, is easy. Get up. Do your thing all day. Stay focused. Go to sleep. Sounds easy but so many artists don’t do this. They stop before the project is complete. They don’t finish the book. They leave aspects of the painting unpainted. They leave their music raw, without the best production they can offer.
But Wait, There’s More!
There’s more to leaping than just being creative. In matters of art, there’s saying something. Rushdie didn’t mean to say something, but he did. John Lennon intended on saying exactly what he meant. What do you need to say?
Like political dissenters, artists with something on their mind can face ostracization or worse. In “Il Postino,” the Italian film about poet Pablo Neruda‘s influence on a young mailman, the mailman learns his poetry can help inspire a nation. Previously, he had no sense of hope, and now, learning he is gifted in this way, he is ready to stand up to say things he considers important.
You have a choice: live life afraid or live life fully. For the artist, fully is your only real choice.
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