A very respected journalist once told me, “I’m always telling students, if you want to be a journalist, for God’s sake don’t be a Journalism Major. Study something else, like The Classics or Architecture. That means when you start looking for work, you’ll be bringing something to the table besides ‘Shop Talk’.”
Great, great advice. And what’s true for aspiring journalists is also true for artists. We get so fixated on our own shtick- and the shtick of our peers, and whoever is in fashion that week- that we close ourselves up to the very kinds of experience that will make our work deeper, richer and more interesting in the long run, and “Talk Shop” instead [And bloggers are the worst. Why? Because it’s so much easier for a blogger to write about social media than it to write about something more original. I’ve been as guilty as anyone.].
Then again, it’s hard to make a significant body of work long-term, unless you’re totally obsessed and single-focused. Besides eating, drinking and screwing, Picasso didn’t do much else with his time, except make art.
On this subject, the best thing I’ve heard recently came from the composer, Phillip Glass, who my Twitter buddy, Hazel Dooney quoted recently: “I have one secret. You get up early in the morning and you work all day. That’s the only secret.”
My advice? Don’t worry about being an artist. Worry about getting the work made. If you’re any good, the rest will follow. Rock on.
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