MYT Monday #008 - Are you an Artist?

Nov 23, 2020

I'm currently deeply focused on my creative practice.

I've pretty much given up on social media in a personal capacity (watching this, or this, will do that for you), and spending a lot more time defining how I create music and content, as well as asking myself why I create in the first place.

Is it to merely pay the bills and exist? Or, is it to solve an interesting problem, to make something that truly hasn't existed before, and to help make the world a slightly better place through my creations?

Seth Godin has a great way of looking at this - creatives like us essentially fall into two categories, Hacks and Artists...

You might be a Hack if you...

  • Look for the shortcut, the get rich quick scheme
  • Focus on outcomes, and ignore the process of getting there
  • Want guarantees that your work will pay off
  • Aren't interested in excellence, and only interested in results.

  • Give people exactly what they want (or what they think they want), no more, or no less.

  • Are overly concerned with the opinions of others regarding your art, and worry about 'making it' or not.
  • Appeal to the lowest common denominator in you artform.
  • Turn up to do the work when you want something in return, when it suits you, or whenever you feel like doing the work.
  • Mostly do Shallow work, on the surface level.

On the other hand, Artists...

  • Lead from the front
  • Are interested in depth, rather than speed
  • Do creative work, regardless of if there's a pay off or not
  • Are committed to Excellence in their artform (not perfectionism btw - that's just avoidance)
  • Give people what they need, rather than what they want.
  • Value their creative Process, as they know the outcomes will take care of themselves
  • Have a lifelong creative Practice they are deeply committed to, and show up every day for
  • Prioritise Deep Work and create conditions in their lives to do that Deep Work.
  • Turn up and do the work, regardless of if they're in the mood or not.

There are plenty of people out there who think they are Artists, but are actually Hacks, and they don't even realise it.

I was one of them. For years, I defined my self worth through my achievements. The outcome was the only thing that mattered. The process didn't.

There are also plenty of people out there who will try to teach you the 'hack', the supposed shortcuts to success.

They'll make all sorts of promises to show you the way to 'get there' (hint  - there's no such place) as quickly as possible, in as short a time as possible...this is Hackery, disguised as ambition.

Maceo Plex has another way of looking at it - you're either an Artist, or an Artisan...and it pays to know the difference.

So, which one are you?

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with being a Hack, and choosing the be an Artist is a challenging decision to make.

All you need to know is which one you are.

Choose consciously. Choose wisely.

To your increasing Creative Flow,

Paul <3


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