Making art

I've long considered my business a work of art, but in the past couple of years, I've started making music, and it's a very different game, mostly because I now have a multi-million dollar software company and, more importantly, every time I make a new feature on the software, it'll immediately be used by thousands of people all over the world, while my music is making no money at all, and has basically zero audience yet.

It's given me a lot of opportunity to think and read and philosophize about how to approach making music in that context.

The bottom line I've come to is: Just do it. Keep making art, keep making music, even if it falls way short of my ambitions and visions. I've read a bunch of books, and some multiple times. Last week I revisited Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland. In it is this passage:

Consider the story of the young student—well, David Bayles, to be exact—who began piano studies with a Master. After a few months' practice, David lamented to his teacher, "But I can hear the music so much better in my head than I can get out of my fingers."

To which the Master replied, "What makes you think that ever changes?"


Lesson for the day: vision is always ahead of execution—and it should be.

The book is awesome. It has this story of a ceramics teacher who divided the class into two halves. One half would be graded on how much work they did, measured by weight, simply. The other half would be graded on the quality of one single piece of work. At the end of the semester, it turned out the half that was focused on simply creating as much work as possible had managed to create the best work by far.

Why? Because the half graded on quality had sat around thinking about the perfect piece of work without actually doing anything.

Bottom line, it's much better to make lots of work, and not worry so much about the quality of each piece. By creating, you learn and grow as a creator.

It's pretty much how I've created Simplero. Just show up (almost) every day, make something, make progress, and eventually something amazing comes of it. It certainly helps to have a vision, but just keep showing up and making art regardless. Many days, it's going to feel like you didn't accomplish much. Many days it's going to feel like it doesn't matter what you do. But over time, it all adds up.

It certainly inspired me to get back at the computer making music, and writing down words.

A few other choice quotes:

Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned how to continue—or more precisely, haev learned how to not quit.

Just keep going. Reminds me of the letter to Agnes De Mille:

It is not your business to determine how good it is;
nor how valuable it is;
nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly,
to keep the channel open.

Also love this:

In lage measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive.

 And this:

The sane human being is satisfied that the best he/she can do at any given moment is the best he/she can do at any given moment.

Keep making your art, no matter what your art form is.


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