It’s not art that can save you.
It’s making art that can save you.
The process of creating beautiful, potent, precise and intense work, whatever the medium, is the process of owning your own creative force. No force, no struggle, no quest means no salvation.
If making art was easy, like crafting, it wouldn’t be transformative. It wouldn’t demand total engagement, wouldn’t require you to see in new way, wouldn’t demand rigor to create expression. It wouldn’t make you think more deeply, wouldn’t make you question your choices, wouldn’t expose so many bits of your soul.
Making art is always messy and inconvenient. While it can become fast and fluid, that only happens with mastery, after a great deal of experience and struggle. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
Art without discipline is art without polish or nuance. Delicate control lets add depth to work, capturing the tension between freedom and precision.
All art thrives on captured energy. The more energy you pack in — mental energy, emotional energy, physical energy, creative energy — the more art mesmerizes and compels our attention.
Our art is the lifeline we hold onto as we explore the inner territory of our deepest emotions. Art is the map we make which can take us back home when we need to escape, the journal we create that can let us relive and consider those spaces in the contemplative comfort of a reverie.
Because art is so personal, we have only ourself to answer to. While we can complain that art is hard, no one else has responsibility for our art, so we have no one to blame but ourselves for the outcome.
There can be a point where art meets commerce, where we want to create work that satisfies an audience, dreaming of fame and fortune. We imagine that somehow if we just follow the expectations of others that we can make art that will sell.
It is, however, our personal spark, our unique energy that makes our work different, true and compelling. There is always a space for generic and imitation, but without the revelatory process of art, it will never achieve greatness.
We must first master our own technique, our own process, owning our own practice before we can ever transfer our artistry to the cause of delighting audiences. Even after we do engage the audience, we must still push our own development, creating new beyond the comfortable so we can lead the audience to the new, the novel and the potent.
Even after you make art that others engage, you have to keep making art that challenges you to stay fresh, stay moving, stay alive. If you don’t keep growing and challenging yourself, the limits of your audience will be the limits of your own salvation.
It’s not art that can save you. It’s making art that can save you.
That’s simply because making art — real art, art that takes depth and discipline — changes you profoundly.
Making art changes the way you see the world, especially the world inside of you.
Making art changes the way you make choices, demanding conscious attention and the willingness to acknowledge when a choice doesn’t quite work and you need to choose again.
Making art turns you into an active participant in the creation of your own life, teaching you to own the process of living rather than just to be driven by habit and impulse.
Owning your own life in a way you can reshape it lets you save yourself.
To me, anyway, that’s a very good reason to make art.
I don’t want life to imitate art.
I want life to be art.
— Carrie Fisher