Imagine there are 2 men who set out on a mission to climb to the top of Success Mountain.
There is no easy path to the top of Success Mountain.
No road has been paved. These men will have to make it to the top all on their own.
These men do not know each other. Their only goal is to get to the top of Success Mountain no matter what.
These men are also very jealous of the glory (they want it all for themselves) so they tell no one else about the path they plan to take.
Because only one man can climb one path to the top of Success Mountain, they start at different entry points at the bottom of the mountain.
These 2 men take their very different paths, they pass through each un-passable pass, they make it through every bit of adversity.
Finally they reach the top of Success Mountain and give each other a high-five.
They are happy to meet each other because they are the only two who actually made it to the top. Though thousands of other men tried and failed to climb to success, these men stuck with it until the end.
Even though they took separate paths, they each passed through their own series of obstacles to overcome adversity. They give each other a laugh because they know that quitting is the only way to fail.
All the quitter's gave up and said “I took the wrong way and had to climb down so I could start again.”
Our 2 heroes laugh at the pathetic excuses. The heroes know that there is no right way or wrong way.
The path you take is meaningless because all paths, taken to the end, lead to the same place.
The only way you cannot end up at the same place (the top of Success Mountain) is if you turn around and go back down before you reach the top.
These 10 important tips for starving artists will ensure you do not quit before you reach the top…
1) There is no one-way to success
Everyone wants to know the rules and the laws of success.
Very few understand that rules are meant to be broken and laws are only abided by the law-abiders.
We all want to think that there is one secret rule that will guarantee you success.
And if there was one rule that absolutely guarantees success it is this: There are no rules.
Everything is dual; Everything has poles; Everything has its pair of opposites; Like and unlike are the same; Opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; Extremes meet; All truths, are but half-truths; All paradoxes may be reconciled.” – Hermes the Thrice Great
And as an artist your job is to turn a half-truth into a full-truth. You must reconcile paradox.
“You can't do it this way, you have to do it that way!” is wrong.
All paths lead to the same destination. Climb and you will reach the top. Don't climb and you will stay at the bottom.
What is important is that you become like the Little Engine That Could and you choo-choo choose your path and you follow it until the end.
I always tell you “you must do it this way to get your way!” but that is a lie I tell you.
I tell you this lie because as an artist you must have an opinion.
Having a strong opinion is key to artistry.
If you do not have a strong opinion, what will you communicate? Nothing!
Everything worth communicating is a strong opinion, one way or the other.
It does not matter what the opinion is, it only matters that it is strong and you believe in it.
If you are not willing to go too far you will never get far enough.” – Chael Sonnen
Middle of the road types will not succeed as anything other than middle managers in fluorescent offices.
3) Originality is over-rated, copying is key
When you start out, it's important to just start. However, a new artist has no idea how to start.
Therefore it is perfectly acceptable for a new artist to copy another artist. This way, the artist will learn what to do and what not to do.
In the beginning, no one is original and everybody copies. In time, the aspiring artist will develop his own taste and talents and he will become original.
So many people have been mad at other blog artists who copy the great work of Bold and Determined but copycats have never bothered me.
I've always understood that when you start you have to follow some sort of guideline. It is only in time that the true artist develops his true voice and true abilities.
What kind of artist would Michelangelo be if he did not first start out by painting the same landscapes and portraits that everybody else painted?
If you start out trying to be original you're going to be nothing.
Copying is more like an internship. It is your time for learning your craft.
Copy away, young maestro.
4) Copying will lead to failure, originality is key
Copying in the long-term is a losing strategy.
Yes, you have to copy at first just to learn your craft.
However, the only way to master your craft is to do it in a way that nobody else is doing.
To create art in a way that nobody else is doing you need 2 things:
- A mastery of the basics (learned via copying)
- And one slight twist that nobody else is doing
It doesn't take some gigantic new way to create a masterpiece, it only takes a slight twist to create something that is entirely new.
So many would-be artists believe that they need to think big to achieve their dreams.
This belief neuters the artist's ability to create great work.
Instead of creating something, they create nothing because they are waiting for some divine inspiration to create the next Sistine Chapel.
Michelangelo himself did not start out thinking big, he started out by painting flowers and learning the craft of art.
The great master started by painting houses, portraits, flowers, landscapes etc., just like everybody else.
It is only in time that the great separate from the average.
Everyone has to start at exactly the same place – the bottom – and climb from there.
And in that time you must be creating small pieces of art. This is how you learn and how you grow.
You can't go from creating nothing to creating greatness overnight.
It takes many years of creating small achievement and building up to your great big work.
The belief that you need to create a great big work immediately neuters the would-be artist and this belief has to be killed.
Do not try to think big, instead think small. Do small works every day.
The magic of thinking small leads to big changes in your life and in your art.
Stop listening to critics because if you do listen to them you will never create anything new.
Critics exist only to ensure you do not color outside of the lines.
Critics are incapable of original or creative thought and they have a need to fit in with the masses.
Listening to the critics say “But nobody else is doing it this way!” will kill your chances of success.
If nobody else is doing it that way, that's exactly the way you want to do it.
7) There is no guarantee
So many would-be artists quit before they start because they never get a guarantee of success.
Guess what? You will never get a guarantee of success.
That is because success only comes to those who have the nuts and the guts to go their own way and create their own success.
If success guarantees existed then everybody would be a success, wouldn't they?
If there were “sure things” then everybody would follow them and poverty and starving artistry would vanish overnight.
In fact, there is only one sure thing in the world: No risk, no reward.
The reality is that success is only for the few and the brave.
The weak and the cowardly will never achieve success, and don't deserve success, because they never took the initial risk that sparks the rewards.
8) Creating great art isn't hard, but starting is
Don't you know what the great Lao Tzu said?
Once you begin your journey it is not difficult.
The only hard part is making that very first step.
So many people quit before they even start because they cannot make that first step.
Being a great artist (via word, painting, audio, or video) is about creating a legacy.
Legacy is more important than creating outrage today.
Todays come and go, the future is forever. Working for the future is the key to greatness.
Working for today leads you to create art that comes and goes and is unimportant in the long run. There are topics of interest that will forever have an audience.
We call these topics “evergreen”.
Concentrating on the topics of today will always date your art in the long run.
Doing political commentary today means in 5 years your work is completely dated and meaningless.
And this, young maestro, is how you create the great work that keeps you remembered through the ages.
10) The only barrier to success is yourself
Failures love to blame everybody for their failures.
Well, almost everybody.
They always forget to blame the real person who is responsible for their failure: themselves.
If you want to see the person who is holding you back, go to a mirror and look directly into your own eyes. That person is your biggest enemy to success.
Before laying the blame on others, you've got to overcome self-sabotage and conquer your fear of success.
Say to yourself, “I can do it, I will do it, and nobody will stop me.”
Say it enough and it will become true.
BONUS #11) Success is a manifestation of your will
You must will your great work into existence because it will not come to existence any other way.
That is how magic works – you say it enough that you come to believe it, and when you believe it it comes true.
If you concentrate on it, you can make it true.
After Michelangelo, after Lao Tzu, is, perhaps, you.
But only if you want it to be you.
Until next time.