Art Works Blog

Advice For Artists From Artists (3rd edition)

We don't mean to boast, but let's face it—one of the best parts of writing for the National Endowment for the Arts Art Works blog is that we get to talk to some really cool people. Talented people. Smart people. People who—whether they're musicians or designers or writers or actors or artists of any kind—have figured out how to live the artist's life. A life that, from what we've gleaned from nearly a decade of Art Talks, has more to do with gumption than glamour, not to mention discipline, fortitude, struggle, and collaboration. We've combed through the archives to bring you some of our favorite wise words, just perfect for #WisdomWednesday or any day. (Click on each artist's name to read the original interview.)

“Try to write with enough humility so that you become interested in your errors rather than be defensive of them.” — Phil Klay

“When I sit down to write, I give myself permission to dare anything.” — Linda Pastan

“I just think it's important that artists and musicians work even between the creative spurts, that they try to force inspiration even if they think nothing good will come of it. It's good to keep the mind and imagination active and ready to receive.” — Samantha Crain

“Do the thing itself. Don’t pay much mind to critics or what anyone says about it. Just do it, in any form possible, and watch others doing it. Take it in viscerally, get it by osmosis.” — Holland Taylor

“Make friends. People want to work with people that they like. People want to have creative, hard-working, positive people in the room. Be the light in the family, and when new families are formed down the line, you will be sought after. “ — Renée Elise Goldsberry

“I think as an artist one of your biggest obligations is to tell the truth—that’s our gift, that we're able to do that.” — Ramona Emerson

“If you don't love it, get out. You really have to keep reminding yourself, because you can sometimes stay in this artist’s world out of habit.” — F. Murray Abraham

“Definitely make sure you always find a joy in what you're doing and a love because that will keep you passionate and keep you driven. I would also say, be creative with what you do with the art form. Don't be limited to what's already happened in the past. Use technology, use history, use everything. Be innovative. Walk your own path. Try to be unique—well, don't try to be unique, be unique. Be different. And just have fun.” — Jason Samuels Smith

“Failure is another word for experience.” — George Lucas

“I think, lastly that you have to strike a balance between being dissatisfied with your work and being proud of it. If you tip either way too much it's counterproductive.” — Whit Taylor 

“An atmosphere of inspiration is something I take for granted, it's an atmosphere of discipline and focus I struggle to build.” — Justin Torres

What's the best advice you've ever received as an artist? Or about living a creative life? Let us know on the National Endowment for the Arts Facebook page

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