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“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”

-John Cleese

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“Learn to Say F*ck You”: Sol LeWitt’s Advice to Artists, Put to Music (Video, 2013)

Animated still from MOCAtv's "Learn to Say F*ck You", with words by Sol LeWitt and music by Rancid. (2013)

From MOCAtv’s “Learn to Say F*ck You”, with words by Sol LeWitt and music by Rancid. (2013)

Sometimes there’s a mashup so sublime, you just can’t resist. Modern art, punk rock, and good creative advice?  I’m on board.  I’m so behind that. Swirl some bright colors in my face, and the deal’s done.

MOCAtv, the digital channel of the Museum of Contemporary Art, writes this about their video:

In 1965, Sol LeWitt wrote fellow sculptor Eva Hesse a four-page letter of encouragement, urging her to stop doubting herself and to simply continue making her work. Despite the fact that some would consider their friendship unlikely, the two sculptors were close friends and wrote to each other frequently about their ideas, work, and personal lives from 1960 until Hesse’s death ten years later. Often quoted, LeWitt’s letter has become a source of inspiration and a vote of confidence for many artists the world over.
Producer Aaron Rose (Beautiful Losers, Become a Microscope) worked with punk rock band Rancid to remake LeWitt’s words into a bold and boisterous song. With wild and wavy LeWitt-inspired animation, this video energetically embodies the message of its writer.

Watch the video below, and if you’re up for a little hand-writing archaeology, you can also read LeWitt’s full letter.

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Ira Glass’s Advice for Beginners (2013)

AKA, “Make Bad Work”.

Neil Gaiman’s advice to young artists to “make good art” is useful and supportive, but equally useful and supportive is Ira Glass’s advice that young artists should be prepared to make bad work, and a lot of it.

Creative work is often discussed, even among people who know better, in a romantic language that implicitly contains our cultural myths about genius and inspiration, because that’s the language we have for creativity.  When we talk about a successful artist’s early career, it’s usually in terms of innate talent and voice that’s visible even in their early work.  It’s easy to forget, especially for young artists trying to figure out what’s worth showing and what’s worth finishing, that that’s an interpretation made in hindsight, and often contains more than a little wishful thinking.  There will be a lot of bad work.