5 Lessons Learned as an Artist That Changed My Life

Updated on September 30, 2018

When the line between art and life is blurred, what can we see?

1. It’s a mistake to think I have it all figured out.
Through experience, I've found that the surest way to stunt my own potential is to assume I just know stuff. My work took a turn for the better once it began to appeal to curiosity and wonder, rather than notions and answers. In a parallel manner, my day-to-day existence shifted from seeking comfort in what I know, to getting comfortable with tackling what I don't know.

2. It’s never too late to make it better.
I get frustrated when a painting isn’t turning out how I thought it would, but the pieces that I didn’t give up on are the ones I’m most proud of--even if it took me months or years to get it right. The same goes for relationships, goals, and difficulties; through them we may face uncertainty or doom, yet we might surprise ourselves with our capacities to rebuild and strengthen even the messiest pictures.

3. Get involved with others.
It takes some effort, but I’ve never regretted asking someone I trust to critique my work. Vulnerability may be fatal to my ego, but the more I open up to others, the better my work becomes. In turn, learning about other artists and their work has led to breakthroughs on entirely new planes. Progress needs community, perhaps more than competition.

4. Focus on what you focus on.
The more attention devoted to something, the more important that something becomes to the individual. For me, it's the pursuit of understanding the universe. Focusing on that which stirs my curiosity, thus heightens my intellectual, spiritual and creative processes to a point that sustains my work beyond earning money or approval. With that in mind, I've garnered a new approach to prioritizing time and energy outside the studio, so as to keep the things in life that matter most at the center of my focus.

5. No one else is you.
It’s easy to look at a work of conceptual art in a museum and say “My toddler could do that.” But if such a baby genius could replicate it, chances are she wouldn’t be able to elucidate and argue for her ideas and the purpose behind her artwork, at least not in the same way as a practiced artist who can understand and defend her objective. Discovering those objectives may take time, but they’re already works of art as soon as they come to mind.


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