If You’re Not Doing This, You’ll Fail As a Creative

A young painter who cannot liberate himself from the influence of past generations is digging his own grave.

—Henri Matiss

When I read that quote, it immediately resonated.

I can’t paint. But I believe that this quote’s meaning can apply to me. And if you do creative work of any kind, it can apply to you too.

Take the quote and try replacing the word ‘painter’ with ‘writer’ or ‘musician’ or ‘creative person.’

A young creative person who cannot liberate himself from the influence of past generations is digging his own grave.

To me, this quote is about the importance of embracing what today has to offer. It’s about rolling with the punches. It’s about learning from your domain’s past work, but also freeing yourself from that work.

It’s about appreciating the present time you live in, and adapting to it.

Recently, the rise of the Internet has revolutionized many creative professions.

Artists can now connect more deeply with their audience. Get instant feedback on their work. Determine what their audience actually wants.

Embrace the Digital Age

Adapt your style to this new vehicle we call the ‘Internet’—that’s the key to thriving as an artist in the 21st Century.

Now, this applies to all creative people—musicians, poets, photographers, painters, graphic designers, you name it.

Of course, musicians want their music to be put on Cd’s. Poets want their words on paper. Photographers and painters and designers want people to physically hold their art.

But if you can sacrifice even a little bit of that temptation, you’ll find a luscious opportunity, something artists of the past would have killed for: instant access to people, to an audience.

So what’s stopping you from finding your fans and connecting with them?

Create a blog, a brand, and give your work away for free. Get feedback. Then, when you’ve built an audience of loyal fans, you can safely and confidently go the traditional route. You can produce physical books and Cd’s and landscapes and portraits.

Until then, though, try taking advantage of what the digital age is offering you (and every artist out there with a dream).

Liberate Yourself from Past Generations

Studying artists that came before you is crucial to developing your own unique style. Deeply immersing yourself in your field prepares you for the day you start to create.

But with this intense historical study comes the temptation to adopt their style, to think like they did, to use the format they used. At all costs, viciously avoid this temptation.

Be unique. Be modern. Be relevant.

Have your art comment on your experiences, your present age, your society’s problems. Forget about how much you admire the way artists lived, thought, and created, ‘back then.’ 

Embrace the now.

“Or you’ll be digging your own grave.”


Image by suez92

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