The art of being a true artist and producer

A deep dive into the empathy, generosity and courage to be a true artist that connects deeply with their audience in a shallow world.
The art of being a true artist and producer
Jake McNeill
May 24, 2021
5 min read
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There’s a man called Charlie Munger.

He is Warren Buffet’s business partner.

He employs mental models that allow him to make better decisions. He swears by inversion thinking.

WTF is inversion thinking?

Inversion is thinking about what you want to achieve in reverse. Instead of thinking forward about what you need to do in order to achieve your goal, you flip it and think backwards about what you need to avoid in order to achieve your goal.

Avoidance of the negative is often a more effective way to achieve the desired positive. For example, avoiding a precarious cliff edge is a great way to live longer.

Let me explain further using something as abstract as how to live a better life?

There is a lady called Bronnie Ware. She is a best selling author.

She used to care for terminally ill patients in their final weeks. She did palliative care for decades.

This was her patients most common dying regret:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected from me.

How tragic is that? How many people have ruined their lives by succumbing to their fears? Millions? Tens of millions?

Who knows?

What we do know is they didn’t live, they existed. They existed in the shadows of others people’s approval.

They say true hell is meeting the person you could have been.

You only have two options available to you: face your fears now. Or face your regrets at your final curtain.

Choose wisely.

But I digress…

Inversion thinking

In order to live a better life we must avoid the same mistakes that Bonnie’s patients made.

In other words, we must find the courage to live a life that is true to ourselves and not others. We have to be real. We have to live authentically regardless of what others think.

Otherwise we will waste our lives and die with the same regrets.

The same applies to our creativity.

We can’t be the artists and creatives others want us to be. We can’t create to please others to get approval. That’s a dangerous game.

True artists process their feelings and create art to help others. It a subtle but important distinction.

True art can inspire, it can heal, it can change perspectives and maybe, just maybe, it can change your world.

True artists follow their creativity wherever it takes them regardless of outcomes.

We must find the courage to be our true creative selves.

The trouble is society is less authentic today than in any other time in history. Social media has changed the world in so many positive ways, but it has also created traps.

We are conditioned for instant gratification. We are looking for a quick fix and connections in all the wrong places. We are looking for engagement with likes, upvotes and views.

We all want to be liked. We all want to be accepted. We hide the underbelly of our personalties . Our selfish and destructive desires, the dark side that is part of all of us.

We create personas and constructs. We wear masks to hide our true feelings. To stop you peaking behind the curtain.

We’re all playing characters. Building our avatars in the game of life.

We create stories so you will like us, so you will subscribe to us, so you will validate us.

But if we’re chasing instant gratification, we are not creating work that will touch hearts and save souls. We’re not creating with the depth of connection available to all of us.

We want to be truly liked by everybody, loved truly by somebody, and yet we’re unable to truly connect with anybody.

You see, we can’t truly connect without accepting the risk of rejection. To connect we must bare our creative soul.

We must be vulnerable.

Without vulnerability there is no creativity.

Brené Brown

Paradoxically it is our flaws and imperfections, the very things that we have hidden that will connect us with others.

In an instagrammable world it is our fuck ups that stand out. These are the keys to connection.

It’s being us and not the faux version of us that others want to see. So they can see we’re not perfect. That we’re all a bloody big mess inside — so they can feel better about themselves.

So they know they’re not alone.

Creativity is courage

Creativity is sharing our thoughts and feelings. It’s having the guts to show up. To put ourselves out there.

The only winning or losing is with ourselves. It’s about being who we are and what we do and having the courage to share all that with you.

True art and creativity is connecting with others. We’re humans who desperately want to connect with other humans but fearful to do so.

True art is the bridge.

Without creativity we are lost and empty. Without connections we are alone.

But being vulnerable is scary. We expose ourselves to rejection. Many see vulnerability as a weakness.

Yet our purest life experiences are born out of vulnerability. A new relationship that blossoms into love or the birth of a child.

The loss of the former would be a devastating blow. And we would never recover from the loss of the latter.

We need bravery in relationships. They’re not easy. If we hold back emotionally they will slowly die. We must embrace our vulnerability and immerse ourselves completely if we want the relationships to strengthen and grow.

We know, deep down, that the source of our love could also become the prison to our souls. It’s a risk we are willing to take.

Creativity is the same. In order to grow and develop as artists, creatives and producers we have to invest all our vulnerability.

We need to immerse ourselves completely if we want to create art that is remarkable. Art that touches the hearts and souls of others.

Art that is worth sharing.

The art of artistry

I think the true artist - musician, dancer, writer, actor - a true artist is able to sort of articulate pain and tragedy, in a way that sort of expresses what the listener or the beholder may have been feeling but was less able to communicate. Black Thought

The art of being a true artist is empathy. You can’t truly connect without empathy.

We can’t articulate the subtleties of sorrow unless we have felt heartache, or the emptiness of loneliness or the ecstasy of joy.

A true artist has the empathy to understand and the compassion to try and heal. True art is humanity.

We just want to be understood.

Empathy isn’t learnt in books. It’s earned from experience.

We can’t distill the emotion and articulate it unless we have been here before with a younger face.

It’s speaking about the unspoken.

It’s the subtle stroke of the brush, the depth of layers within the lyrics or the melancholic melody that resonates deep within us.

A true artist must stand emotionally bare in front of the world and share their deepest darkest insecurities, their hopes and fears. Their failures as well as their triumphs to help both themselves and more importantly others.

Honesty: the best of all lost arts Mark Twain

It’s about creating with honesty and compassion. It’s about using our experiences to serve others.

Because in the end, we are all the same. We are just humans, trying to be okay in a crazy world. Trying not to be alone. True art lets us know we all feel this way, sometimes.

True art lets us know, we’re in this together.

Connections

Creativity is a conduit to connect with others. It’s not the most talented artists and creators that succeed.

It’s the ones who truly connect deeply with people. It’s artists that can create remarkable work that people share with others.

Commit yourself entirely to vulnerability or step back. This isn’t about whether you want to be a superstar and connect with millions or just a handful of people. That is another conversation for another day.

This is about being the best creative you can be. It’s about developing into the artist you are meant to be. And not what others expect of you.

This is about being you and not living in the shadows of others approval.

It’s about being proud of the work you create regardless of how it is received critically. It’s about saying ‘I made that’ with pride.

Making connections, building relationships and helping others is the joy of art. It’s making a difference. It’s being a true artist.

The secret art to creating true art is empathy and compassion. It is humanity.

Everything you are searching for with your creativity is within you. It always has been.

Peace Out

Jake

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