What Does it Mean to be an Artist? [198]

Apple podcast


This week, we’re discussing what it means to be an artist. Renowned music producer Rick Rubin has written a book in which he argues that the artist is a conduit for creativity comes from source energy. Therefore, he says, the artist’s job is to open themselves up as much as possible to receive whatever wants to come through them. His book is “The Creative Act: A Way of Being” and it really is about life as well as about art. In this episode, we pull out four key ideas and offer our own perspectives – but we should stress that the book really needs to be read in it’s entirety. We recommend that you do that and then think about your own reaction to his words. 

Here are the quotes we discussed:

Number One “The goal is not to fit in. If anything it is to amplify the differences, what doesn’t fit, the special characteristics unique to how you see the world. As soon as a convention is established, the most interesting work would likely be the one that doesn’t follow it. The reason to make art is to innovate, to self-express, to show something new, share what’s inside, and communicate your singular perspective.”

Number Two

“If you have just one seed – a very specific vision you want to carry out – that’s fine. There is no right way. You might consider the possibility however that it could end up being a limitation because you are no longer taking advantage of all that you have in you. Being open to possibility gets you to a place that you want to go that you may not know you wanted to get to.

If you know what you want to do and you do it, that is the work of a craftsman. If you begin with a question and use it to guide an adventure of discovery, that’s the work of an artist. The surprises along the way can expand your work and even the art form itself.”

Number Three

“You may sometimes wonder ‘why am I doing this? What is it for?… in the end those questions are of little importance. There doesn’t need to be a purpose guiding what we choose to make. When examined more closely we might find this grandiose idea useless. It implies we know more than we can know.”

Number Four

“Art made by accident has no more or less weight than art created through sweat and struggle. Whether it took months or minutes does not matter. Quality isn’t based on the amount of time invested. So long as what emerges is pleasing to us, the work has fulfilled it’s purpose….. If you like a result, accept it graciously, whether it arrives in a sudden flash or after long bouts of difficult labour.”


Rick Rubin’s book is called “The Creative Act: A Way of Being”

Here is the Johnny Cash video Louise mentioned (tissues required) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AHCfZTRGiI

Rick Rubin interview:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_szemxPcTI

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“Monkeys Spinning Monkeys” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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