Monday, November 8, 2010

Dear Artist

Be not afraid.
I've come to believe that there is no greater danger to artists than fear. Living takes courage. Doing what you love takes courage. And if what you love is art, then you need a special type of courage.

Detail from Michelangelo's "Pieta"
“The world” is against you. The bowler-hat-bankers hate you for doing something truly meaningful with your time while they pretend their stock trading and contact building is the important work. They sneer at you through the windshields of their luxury sedans, because you invested your week's pay in new art tools while they purchased something really meaningful like another gray suit.

Even some who claim to be art's children are against you. False artists, who would have you believe—who have convinced much of the world—that art is not about revealing beauty but about mere self-expression. They belittle you for paying attention to such low matters as form and truth while they proclaim themselves to be the real thinkers, the great creators. They have given in to the evil that wishes to steal beauty from the world, and they would be oh, so satisfied to drag you along with them.

Your own temperament can be your enemy. Because you have learned how to feel deeply, because you have caught a glimpse of beauty greater than you can ever capture, your shortcomings will stand out to your own eyes as they will to no others. You will feel discouraged when your work doesn't meet your vision, when your goals get trampled in the daily grind of living.
Norman Rockwell's "The Golden Rule"

It's easy to see how artists can become blinded by fear.

But though much is working against you, there is so much more for you. The world needs artists. The world needs beauty and it needs truth, and artists can create that as no other humans have been privileged to do. A teacher can show you the logic of a rainbow; a poem can show you the wonder. A preacher can discourse on the need for social justice; a painting can make you feel that need until your heart could break. Though they may never admit it, may never know how to express it, the world will always need and support art.

Other artists are working beside you, with you, for you. We all know what it is like to experience discouragement, lack of enthusiasm, depression. We want to help bolster you up so you can succeed, because the beauty you create is what the rest of us need to keep plowing ahead. Be careful not to isolate yourself, because there will always be someone reaching out to help if you open the door.

God is for you. He called you to be an artist, to participate in his creation of beauty, and he will support you in that vocation in a million hidden ways and a thousand tangible ones; look for them.

Never let fear get in the way of your mission. Remember that being an artist is indeed a mission, a calling, and expect the stumbling-blocks that get in the way of any worthwhile mission. Fight them. Overcome them, fearlessly.

I am so proud of you for living your vocation. I admire you and respect you for your bravery and determination. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement you give me every day, in so many ways.


  1. Well said! I agree that the world needs artists. When it's all said and done, what will our descendants look at 100 years from now? The gray suits or the works of art we create today?

  2. Beautiful! This is why I study literature... to see the promotion of beauty in the most incredible, uplifting,and often most real way. Please, all of you artists, please keep writing, painting, drawing, craving, so that beauty may continue to always shine in the face of those too blind to see the beauty and who wish to drag others into their refusal as well!

  3. * well, I meant to say "Carving," but "craving" is interesting to think about in light of craving beauty to the point that it overwhelms you thatyou simply must produce your art... :)

  4. I. Love. This. Post.
    Love it.
    It's perfect and beautiful and true.
    I'm totally saving this post. Very encouraging to me.

  5. Why must creative people feel they are standing alone. One friend said to me when she mentions to non-writers she is a writer, they look at her as if she had three eyes. To me, they say everyone is a writer or artist. I don't care what other people say. I love what I do.
    Thanks for this blog post.

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  7. That was lovely Faith! And I think all artists have their times of doubt, when they have to dig deep and re-find their calling.

    I subscribe to "A Note From the Universe" from and the message today was this:

    Don't be afraid to go where you've never gone and do what you've never done, because both are necessary to have what you've never had and be who you've never been.

    Sometimes those little reminders are all it takes to believe in ourselves again.

  8. Melissa, you're right. Art is going to survive and be considered far more important than the gray suits. Think about it...the only reason most people remember any wealthy "business men" from, say, the Renaissance, is that they supported the artists of the time. (Which could be a lesson to the wealthy of today.)
    Rose, Thank you for your comments. It always makes me feel less crazy when I know someone else feels as strongly about things as I do. ;)
    Melody, I'm glad you felt encouraged. That's the main reason I wrote the post...I think we all need some real firm encouragement, and frequently.
    "Life's Beautiful Path"- Sometimes I think people would look at me less askance if I DID have three eyes. A lot of people don't know what to make of artists, which is sad...because the world needs exposure to them.
    Samuel, thanks. I was glad I was able to work both Michelangelo and Rockwell into it... :)
    Kiki, That's a wonderful message! I'm going to copy it onto my "quotes file"...such a good reminder.

  9. Thanks, Faith. I'm 18, still trying to figure out what I want out of this life, and though I feel called to become a writer, I'm easily discouraged. This is just the kind of thing I needed to hear!