Sound familiar artists? Yeah, trust me, I know those feeling and I know those thoughts. I won’t say I’ve completely purged myself of these thoughts but I have overcome most of them by doing one simple thing: looking at a Nike shoebox. I know that sounds silly but if you set aside our overexposure to such marketing phrases you’ll see a truly powerful statement: JUST DO IT.
In an art world consumed by lack of funding, lack of jobs and an abundance of grant applications the phrase JUST DO IT can really stop us dead in our tracks. As an artist, you can’t wait for someone to tell you to do your work. YOU have to tell yourself to do it.
The other day I was watching Theatre Communication Group’s recording of Anne Bogart interviewing Sarah Ruhl and Paula Vogel and Sarah Ruhl told a story that really struck me. When Ruhl was studying under Vogel at Yale, funding was taken away from the MFA playwriting students to put on their thesis plays. Ruhl called Vogel (who was on sabbatical) telling her what happened and Vogel gave each of the playwrights 200 dollars and told them to use that money to put on their plays. And they did.
Ruhl said she learned more from that shoestring production than she would have from 13 readings in regional theaters all across the country. I think this story applies to any of our respective concentrations. Music, animation or anything. Just do it. Sure, you won’t be creating your art in the most ideal of circumstances but you’re still creating your art. And doesn’t that sound amazing?
When I was in college, a professor of mine, Lonnie Alcaraz, was talking to me about the theatre trio Culture Clash and said something regarding their success that will forever stay with me. “They kept doing what they were doing and they did it until someone noticed.”
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that hearing those words changed my life. Don’t wait for anyone to give you an opportunity. Don’t change who you are in order to make others happy. If you truly believe in the work you WANT to do then do it. Keep doing it. Don’t let anything get in your way. There are open mic nights waiting to hear your poetry. Bare coffee shop walls begging for you to hang your photography. Empty rooms that are ready to be transformed for your new play.
Keep doing what you are doing. Someone will take notice. And it will be beautiful.
Graphic art courtesy Sheikh Azraai Azmi
When Persistence Pays Off (actorsembassyny.com)
The Return of Dramachicky (dramachicks.wordpress.com)