how to be an artist
April 7, 2003 06:00 PM

Mal posted this great introduction to the idea of "how to be an artist". Mal talks a lot about art and art school and is generally fabulously clever, so it should come as no surprise that her comments about making art are spot-on.

I did, however, find it a little surprising that her advice for visual artists is not dissimilar to what I'd give actors. Give yourself permission to suck.

But I'd add to that. I'd say, give yourself permission to suck and then refuse to suck.

Actors, more than any other artists, seem to keep their technique in a black box. It's difficult for most actors to demystify their craft for others, because it's actually mystical to them. Some very excellent actors seem to have no idea how they do it. As a result of this black box quality, a lot of new actors tend to fall into two groups; they either don't work at all and await brilliance (which, hey, works on television) or they struggle and cripple themselves with their notions of sucking and phrases like "she's really in her head".

No one is in their own head.

I think I've finally succeeded managed to become an alright, and I did it by constantly insisting that I wasn't going to suck. By which I mean - I'm going to have to fuck up occasionally, but I will endow those fuck ups with so much energy that they will be, in a way, brilliant. Suck brilliantly! This is my advice (which is really not much different from Mal's).

So how does one suck brilliantly? Since an actor's product is ultimately the body in time, pushing the boundaries of either gives you a product that's at least interesting, if nothing else. You could say something similar for any art - what we find so compelling about art is the way it expands human experience, so stretching your media is a way to at least reach towards that. To ensure that even a failure shines a little.

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your wicked thoughts

i know trackback is somehow supposed to cover this kind of thing, but i have yet to uncover its mysteries. sorry. at any rate -- your thoughts in this entry led me to expand on mine in the april 10th entry on my diary.

you're lovely as ever.

these are the thoughts of mal on April 10, 2003 05:03 PM

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