15 Pillars of Being An Artist

I’ve been learning SO much recently about what makes artists tick – from my own experience, but also from so many artists I love and respect. I don’t claim to be some mega famous superstar, but I love what I’ve been learning about this. This road isn’t easy, but totally rewarding, and you have to keep your head in the game. These are some of the keystones of what makes artists who they are, but also define how you can handle the road ahead:

  1. The road is long, but awesome. There’s no overnight fame nor million dollar cheques in the mail the minute you release something – it’s about staying on track persistently and continuing to create – THAT’S what you’ve signed up for. And it’s brilliant.
  2. Practice hard. Try to learn those things you don’t know. Don’t be satisfied staying in the corner of comfort. Talk with people who know more than you, soak up their knowledge and then try to do it yourself.
  3. Be organised. Plan your days, respond to your emails promptly, send and pay invoices on time, flipping do your tax, talk to your accountant, do your banking, pay your debts, buy those new strings, follow up on what you said you’d do, organise that setlist or those stems for that gig. If you need to get a job to support your art form, do it – don’t be naive and let utility bills pile up. Get and stay smart.
  4. Be promo prepared. Actually make a promotional plan and follow it. Update your website, make those homepage banners, make videos, get those fresh photography shots, set a strategy for your social media.
  5. Do it for passion. Not for fame, reputation or money. Stay focused on why you started this and do that forever.
  6. Ignore the haters. Every artist has haters. Basically they’re bored, with no passions of their own, so ignore them. Or pass them the microphone and ask them to do it and see what happens.
  7. Keep your feet planted on the ground regarding what you can do. There is always someone better at what you’re doing. Be grateful for the opportunity to learn and get that good one day.
  8. Listen to and admire other artists. Don’t just live in a bubble of “my music”. Go to other artists gigs, buy their music, message them when they have an artist win.
  9. Don’t be a jerk to other artists. If you are, chances are you’re jealous. Get over it. Be supportive of what they’re doing and their success, then get back to focusing on your journey.
  10. Practice your art form. For the sake of practice, not necessarily for a huge release. Keep practicing those production skills, play that scale AGAIN, run that riff one more time, try something you reckon you can’t do. It’ll all help grow your work, and you.
  11. Collaborate – but carefully. Be challenged by others – see how you can work together (not just with other artists – photographers, digital designers, filmmakers, dancers, writers, etc). If their style isn’t gel-ing with yours don’t be afraid to say you can’t bring anything to the project.
  12. Keep your head up and keep going. There’ll be days where you’re over it. Then you’ll have days where everyone tells you to quit, and you’ll believe it. That’s normal. Keep moving forward, even if it slows down for a day, or two, or a week, or a month. Just don’t stop moving. Get refreshed and come back with a new fire.
  13. Stop whingeing. Just do it.
  14. Don’t downplay what you’re doing to others. Be confident and proud (note: not arrogant) and tell people about your project. Promote it with a smile and drive. Go for it.
  15. Use your artistry to change the world. The world needs positive change now more than ever – bring that change! Fight for a message, or educate people, or push the boundaries. Don’t just mess around with beats all day – do it for a purpose, and share it with the world.
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