One of my earliest memories was being a small child and staring at the blue fabric of our couch. I have no idea how old I was. But inside that pattern of blue with white and red flowers, I could see the galaxy. I could see deep into the blue and imagine worlds, i could move around the flowers on the pattern. Kids have that natural second sight. I remember looking at puzzles as a kid, and getting taken up into the visual story of the pictures.
When we get older, the world pulls this out of us like sap from a tree. It doesn’t help to try and live in that state all the time. That vision mentality won’t help you pay your power bill or deal with an awkward text or confront someone who is being aggressive on the subway. But we all long to return to that sense of connection.
That is why making art matters. Its one of the few ways we get to return to the empathetic flow that used to be our natural habitat.
When we go about to create things, we encounter one immediate but enduring problem. We are never as good as we hoped we would be. The vocal was pitchy, the joke felt deflated in that set, the picture looked better the first time, whatever.
This desire to improve is where the dream world meets the craft. To be great you need both. But some dreamers run into the world of craft and they never come out. They toil and toil, making better and better work, but hide it away like an out of wedlock child.
Or worse, they see the world of people improving their art, and they go backwards. Not even to the dream, they go back to the unconscious. They act like they don’t know what they want to do.
These people are the hardest to help and the hardest to be around. They ate their own treasure map but ask your help looking for it.
There is one way, and I mean only one way to be happy as an artist. Thankfully, its easy to remember.
Super easy, and yet the world is full of would be artists who can’t or won’t do this.
We catch a vision, then the scale of the vision scares us. Or we better yet, we start on the vision, we get close, but then we decide that what we have made isn’t good enough (for who specifically?). This is all the giant pit of leaves that artists fall into.
Catch the vision from your muses, whatever the are. The TV or your ex or whatever. Create your world, then expose your world to the air of other people.
I have known so many talented people sitting on their art and it breaks my heart. I have been that person. Its fear, pride, laziness, whatever. The only cure is to let your art go. I don’t mean quit, I mean publish.
Catch and release. The only thing that is real is the things you share. Everything else is still in the dream and as beautiful as it may be there, it is no help to anyone.
Don’t die with all your good ideas trapped in your heart. Don’t do it.