I have received so many questions for this creativity. Reading all of them and trying to structure my thoughts, I thought about these ten rules which I think cover most of the subjects you asked me about, and might help give you a solid backbone as you start on your path. If you need more, I can get specific…
In the meantime, tell me what you think about this ;)
1/ If you want to be an artist, stop right there. You are an artist.
Don’t wait for people to tell you who you are. Only you know. I decided to call myself an illustrator long before I got my first commission.
2/ If you don’t make crap, you’ll never make genius.
Learn to be uncomfortable with your work. Nobody said it was easy. True creativity comes from deep down and it’s not always pretty when it comes out. You might make super majestic crap for years until a pure flower blooms above all your shitty work. Persevere :)
3/ If you really want to be an artist, then money comes second. I know it blows, sorry!!!
It’s not about “sleeping under the bridges” as my mom used to say. It’s about being comfortable that as an artist, you WILL go through phases where nobody cares. Or phases where you’re empty and you just need to rest and regress and not be productive. And totally renew yourself.
Stay fluid, and save a little money for rainy days. Remembering when I was poor but really happy in my life, with my friends, my love, my cat, and my illustrations reassured me that I could always create a beautiful life whatever was in my bank account.
And that living the life I wanted was more important to me than driving a brand new car.
It helps me when I need to say NO to projects that I don’t feel like doing.
4/ Don’t show too early, but don’t show too late.
Don’t wait until your work is perfect to show it. It will never be.
But don’t expect to find an audience or people to praise you for every doodle or tune you put out. And if your family and friends tell you what you’re doing is amazing and you’re a superstar, appreciate their love, but just don’t believe a word they’re saying. Get out of your comfortable bubble!
5/ A big part of making it as a creative or an artist is to be able to show your work in the world.
If you’re outgoing like me, it’s easier.
If you’re an introvert, it’s about finding your way. Wether it’s finding the right collaborator. Starting something compelling on social media. Becoming part of a creative group.
Once you get your first jobs, easy: just be amazing.
Be on time, be kind, be humble, be surprising. People will call you back.
6/ Be patient.
Good things take time.
Waiting is frustrating.
Frustration often creates better work.
When I started being an illustrator I was told: it takes ten years.
So, would you do it if I told you it takes ten years?
I chose to. And what happened during those ten years was fascinating.
7. Start with what you have.
You do not need an amazing camera to make great photos.
You do not need expensive tools to start painting.
You don’t need an expensive school to become a true artist.
You just don’t.
You’ll know when is the time to buy yourself the $5,000 camera. That time will come. Not now.
8/ Oh, by the way, PRACTICE.
Give it ALL. YOU’VE GOT. This is what will separate you. Work. Work, Work. Do more of the same thing. Have a sleepless night. Give yourself an art fever. Fuck balance for a while. Go, go, go and when everybody stops, KEEP GOING. If you love what you do, it’s not even going to feel difficult. It will feel fun, exciting, and TRUE.
9/ And practice MORE.
Read about the masters of your art. Go see exhibitions, movies, concerts, read books. Past and present. Don’t stay isolated on your island, and don’t think you can experience all of it through Instagram. Come out and see the world of beauty that was created by your predecessors. It’s not about feeling crushed under the weight of their genius.
It’s about being lifted by it. It’s about feeling part of a lineage. It’s about getting intimate with your fellow creators.
10/ Let go of your expectations.
Tune into the joy (or passion, intensity, sense of a mission) of your craft and let go of the outcome.
Let life take you on its windy, fascinating roads. If I had stayed attached to being an illustrator – nothing would have happened for me. I would not be writing to you today. I learned to adapt, evolve, let grow and let die.
Oh and don’t forget. HAVE FUN. It’s the journey that counts. Not the destination.
*Editor’s Note: This column was originally published last month in Garance’s monthly newsletter. If you’d like to sign up to receive Garance’s monthly newsletter, click here to provide us with your info! Her next one will be on THIS month’s theme: renewal!