Good morning, children! Today I lay out for you a list of the fundamentals of an artiste. Mind your sanity as you follow these simple instructions on your way to complete immortality— in the form of everlasting impact, of course!
The rules are below.
1. Express Yourself
Make art…frequently! If you are the kind of person who needs structure, then schedule it for yourself. Everyday you can set aside an hour to write, or make something. If you are a musician, but you are unable to play your instrument, write in a diary! If you cannot write, cook a creative meal! If you cannot cook, express yourself in your outfit! Get in the habit of expressing yourself in all sorts of ways. And most importantly, make a lot of art.
2. Improve Your Craft
Go to school, take classes, practice all day long. When you are not in a “creative” mode it is really important to practice your instrument, whatever it may be. My goal in voice lessons always used to be, “I do not want to be limited in anyway by my instrument.” It still is, honestly! If your technical abilities are strong than you will have more colors to paint with, so to say. While I don’t think it’s necessary to schedule in “creative time,” I definitely think it is necessary to schedule in daily time to improve your practice, be it painting, singing, tuba, writing. Practice!
3. Understand Your Mind & Open Your Vessel
This is a very important step. Dive deep into your mind. Spend too much time in your memories. What do your dreams tell you? What emotions do you feel? Why do you feel these things? This process is not going to be fun. It may hurt your feelings, but how can you make poignant art if you are merely scratching the surface of your own existence? Open yourself freely to being a better person. Be careful not to self-loathe too much while you're in this process. Many artists fall trap to self hatred intertwined with self-analysis (myself included). Have compassion for yourself in this process and know that it will help push you forward as an artist.
4. Understand Your Motivation
Why do you want to create? Why do you want to make art? What do you have to say? Maybe you say, “Because I want to be famous.” If that is the case please, please, please, question that notion. Is fame something you truly desire? Or is it our capitalist society that gives you no option for success if not for objectification of your human-ness? Does that anger you? Do you have something to create about it?! Really, though, why is your higher purpose telling you to make art? What is it that you need to express? We are all very curious!
5. Practice Daily Vulnerability
Daily Vulnerability Conditioning is a very valuable tool for artists. To do it, put yourself in a (SAFE) vulnerable situation daily. This could be trying a hard yoga class, going to a new super market, talking to someone you think is cute, doing a new activity. Daily vulnerability exercises will push your comfort zone a bit farther, which in turn will push you a bit more into the ocean while you’re creating art. If you cannot partake in active VC (Vulnerability Conditioning), you can partake in Spatial Vulnerability. That would be sitting or standing in a new area of your room or home. Try to stay there for 5 minutes, and observe a new perspective. Spacial Vulnerability can keep you active when VC is unavailable.
6. Dress For Success
You’re an artist, for God’s sake! Express yourself in your clothing. This daily expression is so necessary. Don’t take it for granted! You don’t need to have money to dress in a way that is pleasing to you. Feel good in what you're wearing!
7. Value Yourself
There have been times when I wonder how much of a narcissist an artist has to be. I don’t advocate narcissism, but you must value and love yourself. And beyond that, you have to understand and believe that you have something important to say. Your words and expression are necessary to humanity. It’s true! Remember this when you are feeling down on yourself. Everything you have experienced has led you to your creations.
8. Be A Business Boss
If you want to be a career artist, educate yourself about the business. Have a plan. Have goals. Your art is a small business. You’re the CEO. Know what’s happening, know what you should charge, know who you’re hiring, know what they should be doing. Make contracts any time more than $1,000 is in play (or at least email confirmations with details). This is going to put you at another level. Artists that are successful are business savvy. Don’t let them fool you. No one wants to talk about it, but I promise you the business aspect of your art is going to take up probably half (if not more) of your time, and I want you to be strong in that regard!
9. Don’t Get Cocky
Duh. It’s really unattractive and it’s not going to help your career. At all.
10. Be You, Be True, Be Yourself.
This is very important. Somewhere along the line you probably will work with brands and patrons. All artists have dealt with this. Michelangelo, Da Vinci, all of them were commissioned at some time. You will be too. What is the balance between being hired by a patron and creating for yourself? How can you reconcile that difference? How do you make sure you are always pure in your output? This is for you to decide.
Liz Nistico, HOLYCHILD
About Liz Nistico
Liz Nistico is one half of Holychild, an American indie pop duo from Los Angeles, California. The band consists of songwriter and vocalist Nistico and producer and multi-instrumentalist Louie Diller.