It’s a new year. Traditionally on the first morning of a new year we drag ourselves out of bed after a night of alcohol and debauchery and proceed to make a list. We make a list of things we have determined we’re going to do differently. We’re going to lose weight, stop smoking, cut out caffeine. We’re going to go back to school. We’re going to do more charity work. We’re going to be better people. Right? That’s what all of this is about. We’re supposed to make a list and once we’ve crossed off everything on that list, we’ll be better right. We’ll be healthier, and stronger, nicer and more worthy people. It’s a nice concept. It’s a nice thought. And most of us were taught that is the thought that counts. Yeah, well it doesn’t. Having a good thought, just means your logic center works. Being a good person, a better person requires action.
Bear with my paraphrase for a moment. All that is required for mediocrity to triumph is for good artists to do nothing. It’s what happens when we see something not up to snuff, and we let it slide. It’s what happens when we don’t tell our colleagues what we really think because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. And it most certainly happens when we decide we won’t create something because it may be controversial or uncomfortable for the audience.
As artists we are used to rejection. We hear no more than we hear yes. And that happens on a grander scale than the average bear for us. I’m not talking about the outside voices, I mean the inside ones too. There is always that nagging voice inside us that says, no one will like it, no one will want to see it, no one will understand it. And at times that voice may be true. It may be right. And those are the times when we need to push harder. When no one gets it, we need to ask more questions, show it to more people, push and pull and remold it until it’s resonating at the speed we need it to. No doesn’t really mean no. It means I haven’t made you think hard enough yet so you can’t say no. I need to ask you a question so difficult and brain shattering that you can’t help but pause and think. And once you do that, I’ve got you. Once you stop and not only try to answer my question, but posit questions of your own, my work is done.
So let’s add one more resolution to your list. For all the artists out there, I ask that in 2016 you use your art to pose a question to your audience. It’d be great if it were a question you didn’t already have an answer to. Ask it. See what you get back. Wait for the reply you get to change how you view your art, and then improve it accordingly. Cause we all know, there is no artistic endeavor that is finished, it just continues to grow. Even if we, its creator is finished with it, the audience picks it up and continues the life of it. So go out there and make something that will shock and awe them. Make something that will tear them to bits. Make something that will tear at their heart strings, or make them pee themselves because they are laughing so hard. Do that. Make 2016 the year that your art impacts the world. And if it doesn’t, it’s ok. Cause I’ll bet if the world doesn’t know about it, there will be someone whose life is changed because of it. Even if that someone is you.