A Way of Being. “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” - Robert Henri. Everyone Is a Creator. To create is to bring something into existence that wasn’t there before. Tuning In. If you have an idea you’re excited about and you don’t bring it to life, it’s not uncommon for the idea to find its voice through another maker. This isn’t because the other artist stole your idea, but because the ideas time has come. As artists, it’s our job to draw down this information, transmute it, and share it. The best artists tend to be the ones with the most sensitive antennae to draw in the energy resonating at a particular moment. Create an open space to allow creative energy. A space so free of the normal overpacked condition of our minds that it functions as a vacuum. As children, we accept new information with delight instead of making comparisons to what we already believe; we live in the moment rather than worrying about future consequences; we are spontaneous more than analytical; we are curious, not jaded. Practicing a way of being that allows you to see the world through uncorrupted, innocent eyes can free you to act in concert with the universe's timetable. The Source of Creativity. Awareness. Awareness is not a state you force. There is little effort involved, though persistence is key. It’s something you actively allow to happen. It is the presence with, and acceptance of, what is happening in the eternal now. The ability to look deeply is the root of creativity. To see past the ordinary and mundane and get to what might otherwise be invisible. The Vessel and the Filter. If we choose to share what we make, our work can recirculate and become source material for others. No matter what tools you use to create, the true instrument is you. And through you, the universe that surrounds us all comes into focus. The Unseen. By conventional definition, the purpose of art is to create physical and digital artifacts. The end work is a by-product of a greater desire. The world of reason can be narrow and filled with dead ends, while a spiritual viewpoint is limitless and invites fantastic possibilities. Faith allows you to trust the direction without needing to understand it. Look for Clues. When looking for a solution to a creative problem, pay close attention to what's happening around you. This process isn't a science. We can't control clues, or will them to be revealed. Practice. Widening one's scope allows for more moments of interest to be noticed and collected, building a treasury of material to draw from later. When we repeat the exercise of opening our senses to what is, we move closer to living in a continually open state. The real work of the artist is a way of being in the world. Submerge (The Great Works). Broadening our practice of awareness is a choice we can make at any moment. The objective is not to learn to mimic greatness, but to calibrate our internal meter for greatness. So we can better make the thousands of choices that might ultimately lead to our own great work. Nature as Teacher. It is through communing with nature that we move closer to our own nature. Nothing Is Static. You can't step into the same stream twice because it's always flowing. Everything is. The world is constantly changing, so no matter how often we practice paying attention, there will always be something new to notice. No one is the same person all day long. Look Inward. Memories and the Subconscious. There's an abundant reservoir of high-quality information in our subconscious, and finding ways to access it can spark new material to draw from. It’s Always There. Regardless of how much we're paying attention, the information we seek is out there. If we're aware, we get to tune in to more of it. If we're less aware, we miss it. Setting. It’s better to follow the universe than those around you. Interference may also come from the voices within. The ones in your head that murmur you're not talented enough, your idea isn't good enough, art isn't a worthwhile investment of your time, the result won't be well-received, you're a failure if the creation isn't successful. It's helpful to turn those voices down so you can hear the chimes of the cosmic clock ring, reminding you it's time. Your time to participate. Self-Doubt. Self-doubt lives in all of us. And while we may wish it gone, it is there to serve us. If we were machinelike, the art wouldn't resonate. It would be soulless. With life comes pain, insecurity, and fear. We're all different and we're all imperfect, and the imperfections are what makes each of us and our work interesting. We create pieces reflective of who we are, and if insecurity is part of who we are, then our work will have a greater degree of truth in it as a result. If you're not up to it, no one else can do it. Only you can. You're the only one with your voice. Make It Up. We get stuck with beginning a work, completing a work, and sharing a work. One of the best strategies is to lower the stakes. The mission is to complete the project so you can move on to the next. That next one is a stepping-stone to the following work. It’s helpful to see the piece we’re working on as an experiment. One in which we can’t predict the outcome. We’re not playing to win, we’re playing to play. And playing is fun. The work is not about perfection. Distraction. Distractions can keep the conscious part of yourself busy so that the unconscious is freed up to work for you. Distraction is not procrastination. Procrastination consistently undermines our ability to make things. Distraction is a strategy in service of the work. Sometimes disengaging is the best way to engage. Collaboration. What is true is that you are never alone when you're making art. You are in a constant dialogue with what is and what was, and the closer you can tune in to that discussion, the better you can serve the work before you. Intention. Rarely if ever do we know the grand intention, yet if we surrender to the creative impulse, our singular piece of the puzzle takes its proper shape. Rules. The reason to make art is to innovate and self-express, show something new, share what's inside, and communicate your singular perspective. Art is confrontation. It widens the audience's reality, allowing them to glimpse life through a different window. One with the potential for a glorious new view. The templates of the past can be an inspiration in the beginning phases, but it's helpful to think beyond what's been done before. The world isn't waiting for more of the same. Challenge your assumptions and methods. You might find a better way. And even if it's not better, you'll learn from the experience. All of these experiments are like free throws. You have nothing to lose. The Opposite Is True. Examine your methods and consider what the opposite would be. Another strategy might be to double down, to take the shades vou're currently working in to the extreme. Listening. Formulating an opinion is not listening. Neither is preparing a response, or defending our position or attacking an-other's. While creating and defending a story in your own head, you miss information that might alter or evolve your current thoughts. Listening without prejudice is how we grow and learn as people. More often than not, there are no right answers, just different perspectives. The more perspectives we can learn to see, the greater our understanding becomes. Patience. We can't force greatness to happen. All we can do is invite it in and await it actively. Not anxiously, as this might scare it off. Simply in a state of continual welcoming. Beginner’s Mind. To see what no human has seen before, to know what no human has known before, to create as no human has created before, it may be necessary to see as if through eyes that have never seen, know through a mind that has never thought, create with hands that have never been trained. This is beginner's mind one of the most difficult states of being to dwell in for an artist, precisely because it involves letting go of what our experiences have taught us. Beginner's mind is starting from a pure childlike place of not knowing. Living in the moment with as few fixed beliefs as possible. Any label you assume before sitting down to create, even one as foundational as sculptor, rapper, author, or entrepreneur, could be doing more harm than good. Strip away the labels. Now how do you see the world? Talent is the ability to let ideas manifest themselves through you. Inspiration. Habits. “It’s the little details that make big things come about.” - John Wooden. The only person you're ever competing against is your-self. The rest is out of your control. Good habits create good art. The way we do anything is the way we do everything. Treat each choice you make, each action you take, each word you speak with skillful care. The goal is to live your life in the service of art. Put the decision making into the work, not into when to work. The more you reduce your daily life-maintenance tasks, the greater the bandwidth available for creative deci-sions. Thoughts and habits not conducive to the work:. Believing you're not good enough. Feeling you don't have the energy it takes. Mistaking adopted rules for absolute truths. Not wanting to do the work (laziness). Not taking the work to its highest expression (settling). Having goals so ambitious that you can't begin. Thinking you can only do your best work in certain conditions. Requiring specific tools or equipment to do the work. Abandoning a project as soon as it gets difficult. Feeling like you need permission to start or move forward. Letting a perceived need for funding, equipment, or support get in the way. Having too many ideas and not knowing where to start. Never finishing projects. Blaming circumstances or other people for interfering with your process. Romanticizing negative behaviors or addictions. Believing a certain mood or state is necessary to do your best work. Prioritizing other activities and responsibilities over your commitment to making art. Distractibility and procrastination. Impatience. Thinking anything that's out of your control is in your way. Create an environment where you're free to express what you're afraid to express. Seeds. Collecting seeds is best approached with active awareness and boundless curiosity. The work reveals itself as you go. Experimentation. Being open to possibility gets you to a place 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's 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 the artist. The surprises along the way can expand your work, and even the art form itself. Here, we follow the heart. At some point, we may be able to look back and understand why the feeling arose. Other times we will not, and that's fine too. For now, this is of no concern. Failure is the information you need to get where you're going. Try Everything. We want to set up an environment where the decision making occurs free of the misguiding force of persuasion. Persuasion leads to mediocrity. To be evaluated, ideas have to be seen, heard, tasted, or touched. It's best if the person who has the idea either demonstrates it or supervises the execution until it matches what they are suggesting. When working through ways of solving a puzzle, there are no mistakes. Each unsuccessful solution gets you closer to one that works. Avoid becoming attached to the particulars of the problem. Widen your field of view. Taking a wrong turn allows you to see landscapes you wouldn't otherwise have seen. Crafting. Momentum. Once enough data is collected, and the vision is clear, it can be helpful to set deadlines for completion. The business thinks in terms of quarterly earnings and production schedules. The artist thinks in terms of timeless excellence. Keep in mind that it's also possible for something great to be made very quickly. An artist might spend five minutes sketching an idea for a project, and think very little of it. They might sense the seed of something great, and then spend hours or years trying to develop it into something more. But it is possible that the initial sketch or demo, born in all of five minutes, was actually the best version, the seed's purest expression. We may not realize this until after embellishing it or stepping away from it for a while. Art is choosing to do something skillfully, caring about the details, bringing all of yourself to make the finest work you can. It is beyond ego, vanity, self-glorification, and need for approval. Point of View. The goal of art isn't to attain perfection. The goal is to share who we are. And how we see the world. Feel free to copy the works that inspire you on the road to finding your own voice. It's a time-tested tradition. Breaking the Sameness. Exercises to get creative:. Small Steps: write one line every day. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you feel about the line, as long as you are committed to writing it. Change the Environment: turn off the lights, record in the morning. Change the Stakes: raise or lower the stakes with your imagination of what the performance means. Invite an Audience: being observed changes how an artist acts. The goal is to find the specific parameters in each case that bring out your best. Change the Context: play with who you are performing for or what the meaning is behind the lyrics. Alter the Perspective: whatever the situation, if a task is challenging to accomplish, there’s often a way to design the surroundings to naturally encourage the performance you’re striving for. Turn up the music or turn it down. Write for Someone Else: by creating something you’d be excited to hear your favorite artist perform, it depersonalizes the process and can allow the writer to break free of themself. Many artists have a perceived idea of what's in their wheelhouse, and that's ultimately a limitation. So it's helpful to step out of yourself and into someone else's wheelhouse. Add Imagery: paint a picture you want the art to exist in. Limit the Information: be protective and limit people you’re working with from experiencing things that could interfere with their creative process. If you want creators to bring all of themselves to something, give them the most freedom to create. Establish different perspectives or conditions, and see where you or your collaborators end up. Completion. When playing music for someone else, we hear it differently than when we listen to it ourselves. We widen our own perspective. If someone chooses to share feedback, listen to understand the person, not the work. People will tell you more about themselves than about the art when giving feedback. If you've truly created an innovative work, it's likely to alienate as many people as it attracts. The best art divides the audience. If everyone likes it, you probably haven't gone far enough. The work is done when you feel it is. There is no right version. Every work of art is simply an iteration. One of the greatest rewards of making art is our ability to share it. Even if there is no audience to receive it, we build the muscle of making something and putting it out into the world. The Abundant Mindset. Ideas are always coming through. If we live in a mindset of scarcity, we hoard great ideas. The more we share, the more our skills improve. Whatever we concentrate on, we get. To assume there was a golden period and you're past it is only true if you accept that premise. Putting your best effort in at each moment, in each chap-ter, is all we can ever hope to accomplish. With each chapter we make, we gain experience, improve at our craft, and inch closer to who we are. The Experimenter and the Finisher. Complete as many elements of the project as you can without getting hung up. It's much easier to circle back once the workload is reduced. Often the knowledge we gain from finishing the other pieces becomes a key to overcoming earlier obstacles. Temporary Rules. Whether imposed by design or by necessity, it's helpful to see limitations as opportunities. If the goal is to create the most beautiful work possible, then whatever directives are truly in service to that end are the right ones. By breaking the rules, you'll come to have a greater understanding of your past choices. The energy of wonder and discovery can get lost when treading the same ground over and over again. Greatness. There is no more valid metric to predict what someone else might enjoy than us liking it ourselves. Instead of focusing on what making this will bring you, focus on what you contribute to this art to make it the best it could possibly be, with no limitation. With the objective of simply doing great work, a ripple effect occurs. A bar is set for everything you do, which may not only lift your work to new heights, but raise the vibration of your entire life. It may even inspire others to do their best work. Greatness begets greatness. It's infectious. Success. Success has nothing to do with variables outside yourself. Our calling is to make beautiful works to the best of our ability. If we second-guess our inner knowing to attempt to predict what others may like, our best work will never appear. Most variables are completely out of our con-trol. The only ones we can control are doing our best work; sharing it, starting the next, and not looking back. Make each new work, no matter where you stand on the ladder of public perception, like you have nothing to lose. If we can tune in to the idea of making things and sharing them without being attached to the outcome, the work is more likely to arrive in its truest form. Connected Detachment (Possibility). Zoom in and obsess. Zoom out and observe. We get to choose. Point of Reference. Be aware of strong responses. If you're immediately turned off by an experience, it's worth examining why. Powerful reactions often indicate deeper wells of meaning. And perhaps by exploring them, you'll be led to the next step on your creative path. Non-Competition. Art relates to the artist making it, and the unique contribution they are bringing to the culture. Competition oscillates at a lower vibration. Wanting to outperform another artist or make a work better than theirs rarely results in true greatness. Being made happy by someone else's best work, and then letting it inspire you to rise to the occasion, is not competi-tion. It's collaboration. window of time. In this spirit of self-competition, task yourself to go further and push into the unexpected. Don't stop even at greatness. Venture beyond. Essence. Distilling a work to get it as close to its essence as possible is a useful and informative practice. Notice how many pieces you can remove before the work you're making ceases to be the work you're making. Refine it to the point where it is stripped bare, in its least decorative form vet still intact. With nothing extra. Some times the ornamentation can be of use, often not. Less is generally more. Anything taken away can always be put back later, if needed. “Perfection is finally obtained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there's no longer anything to take away.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Apocrypha. Expressing yourself is all that matters. Let's make art, and let others make the stories. We are dealing in a magic realm. Nobody knows why or how it works. Tuning Out (Undermining Voices). The key to navigating this phase of an artistic journey is learning to tune out. To prevent external pressures from entering our inner process and interfering with the pure creative state. More often than not, these are outer voices that were absorbed early in life. Perhaps a critical or doting parent, teacher, or mentor. These voices are not our own. We have internalized someone else's judgment. So it can be met with the same indifference as the other random chatter. Any pressure you feel around the work from the inside or outside is a signal for self-examination. The artist's goal is to keep themselves pure and unattached. To avoid letting stress, responsibility, fear, and dependence on a particular outcome distract. And if it does, it's never too late to reset. The first step of clearing is acknowledgment. Notice yourself feeling the weight of self-criticism or the pressure to live up to expectations. And remember that commercial success is completely out of your control. All that matters is that you are making something you love, to the best of your abil-ity, here and now. Working to free yourself from inner voices is a kind of med-itation. Set aside all concerns for a stretch of time and say, I'm only going to focus on this one practice: making great work. If any distractions come along during that period, don't ignore them or focus on them. Don't give them any energy at all. Let them pass, like clouds parting around a mountain. Regularly engaging in this practice builds the muscle of focused intention, which you can use in everything you do. Eventually, tuning out the undermining voices and losing yourself in the work will not be an effort of will, but an earned ability. Self-Awareness. As artists, our mission is not to fit in or conform to popular thinking. Our purpose is to value and develop our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. We extend our reach for a higher consciousness. Releasing attachment to our perceived self and limitations. We are seeking not to define ourselves, but to expand ourselves, to tune in to our limitlessness nature and connection to all that is. Self-awareness is a transcendence. An abandonment of ego. A letting go. As artists, we are on a continual quest to get closer to the universe by getting closer to self. Moving ever nearer to the point where we can no longer tell where one begins and the other ends. It's helpful to work as if the project you're engaged in is bigger than you. Right Before Our Eyes. If you are open and stay tuned to what's happening, the answers will be revealed. A Whisper Out of Time. To hear whispers, the mind must also be quiet. Boosting our receptivity may require a relaxing of effort. If we're trying to solve a problem, trying can get in the way. Splashing in a pond stirs up clouds of dirt in the clear water. In relaxing the mind, we may have greater clarity to hear the whisper when it comes. In addition to meditation, we might softly hold on to a question and go for a walk, swim, or drive. The question isn't being worked on, just loosely held in awareness. The whisper cannot be wrestled into existence, only welcomed with an open state of mind. Expect a Surprise. One way is through letting go of control. Release all expectations about what the work will be. Approach the process with humility and the unexpected will visit more often. Many of us are taught to create through sheer will. If we choose surrender, the ideas that want to come through us will not be blocked. Living in discovery is at all times preferable to living through assumptions. Great Expectations. When we sit down to work, remember that the outcome is out of our control. If we are willing to take each step into the unknown with grit and determination, carrying with us all of our collected knowledge, we will ultimately get to where we're going. This destination may not be one we've chosen in advance. It will likely be more interesting. This isn't a matter of blind belief in yourself. It's a matter of experimental faith. You work not as an evangelist, expecting miracles, but as a scientist, testing and adjusting and testing again. Experimenting and building on the results. Faith is rewarded, perhaps even more than talent or ability. After all, how can we offer the art what it needs without blind trust? We are required to believe in something that doesn't exist in order to allow it to come into being. When we don't yet know where we're going, we don't wait. We move forward in the dark. If nothing we attempt yields progress, we rely on belief and will. We may take several steps backward in the sequence to move ahead. Each experiment is valuable in its own way if we learn something from it. Even if we can't comprehend its worth, we are still practicing our craft, moving ever so much closer to mastery. With unshakable faith, we work under the assumption that the problem is already solved. The answer is out there, perhaps it's obvious. We just haven't come across it yet. Sometimes the mistakes are what makes a work great. Humanity breathes in mistakes. Openness. When a collaborator's feedback or method seems questionable and conflicts with your default setting, reframe this as an exciting opportunity. Do all you can to see from their perspective and understand their point of view, instead of defending your own. In addition to solving the problem at hand, you may uncover something new about yourself and become aware of the limits boxing you in. Surrounding the Lightning Bolt. Some artists live as storm chasers awaiting spontaneous strikes, longing for the thrill. A more constructive strategy is to focus less on the lightning bolt and more on the spaces surrounding it. The space before, because lightning does not strike unless the right preconditions are met, and the space after, because the electricity dissipates if you do not capture it and use it. If lightning doesn't strike, our work need not be delayed. Working without lightning bolts is simply working. Like carpenters, we show up each day and do our job. Without diligence, inspiration alone rarely yields work of much consequence. Making great art may not always require great effort, but without it, you'll never know. If inspiration calls, we ride the lightning until the energy is exhausted. If inspiration does not come to lead the way, we show up anyway. Do what you can with what you have. Nothing more is needed. 24/7 (Staying In It). The artist's job is never truly finished. Even after we get up from hours engaged in our craft, the clock is still running. This is because the artist's job is of two kinds: The work of doing. The work of being. Creativity is something you are, not only something you do. It's a way of moving through the world, every minute, every day. If you're not driven to an unrealistic standard of dedication, it may not be the path for you. Just as a surfer can't control the waves, artists are at the mercy of the creative rhythms of nature. This is why it's of such great importance to remain aware and present at all times. Watching and waiting. Maybe the best idea is the one you're going to come up with this evening. Spontaneity (Special Moments). 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 its purpose. If you sit down to write with no preparation or fore-thought, you might bypass the conscious mind and draw from the unconscious. You may find that what emerges holds a charge that cannot be duplicated through rational means. Even spontaneity gets better with practice. When outside observers come into the stu-dio, they often can't believe how clinical the process looks. They imagine a big music party. But we're constantly generating detailed notes on focus points and experiments to test. For almost everything that's said, someone is writing it down. Two weeks later, there will come a time when someone will ask a question like: What was that lyric we loved? What was the previous version of that element like? Which take was the best for the fill going into the second chorus? And we go back to the notes. There's a great volume of material constantly being gen-erated, and we're so in the moment that it's impossible to remember everything, even something that happened seconds ago. By the time we get to the end of the song, I'm absorbed in listening, and those thoughts are gone. Faithful note-taking by a connected observer helps prevent special moments from getting lost in the churn of excitement. Sometimes, it can be the most ordinary moment that creates an extraordinary piece of art. How to Choose. We can hack into this principle to improve our creations through A/B testing. It is difficult to assess a work or a choice on its own without another point of reference. If you place two options side by side and make a direct comparison, our preferences become clear. We limit our options for each test to two choices wherever possible. Any more cloud the process. We place them next to each other, step back, and directly compare. More often than not, there will be a clear draw toward one. If there isn't, we quiet ourselves to see which has a subtle pull. Following the natural feedback in the body, we move toward the option that hints at the ecstatic. Whenever possible, make the A/B test blind. Conceal as many details as possible about each option to remove any biases undermining fair comparison. If you're at an impasse in an A/B test, consider the coin toss method. Decide which option will be heads and which will be tails, then flip the coin. When the coin is spinning in the air, you'll likely notice a quiet preference or wish for one of the two to come up. Which are you rooting for? This is the option to go with. It's the one the heart desires. The test is over before the coin ever lands. When testing, don't overintellectualize your choice of cri-teria. You're looking for that first instinct, the knee-jerk reaction before any thought. The instinctual tug tends to be the purest, whereas the second, more reasoned thought tends to be processed and distorted through analysis. The goal is to turn off the conscious mind and follow our impulses. Children are exceptionally good at this. They may move through several different spontaneous expressions of emotion in a single minute, without judgment or attachment. As we grow older, we're taught to hide or bury these reac-tions. This mutes our inner sensitivity. If we were to learn anything, it would. If we were to learn anything, it would be to free ourselves from any beliefs or baggage or dogma that gets in the way of us acting according to our true nature. The closer we get to a childlike state of free self-expression, the purer our test and the better our art. No matter what route you take, if you complete the jour-ney, you will reach the same destination. This destination is a work we feel energized to share. One we look back on and wonder in amazement how it could have come from us. Freedom. The world is only as free as it allows its artists to be. Translation. The more we develop, expand, and sharpen our skills, the more fluent we become. We can experience greater freedom and less sameness in the act of making. And vastly improve our ability to manifest the best version of our ideas in the physical world. If you feel unable to hit a note or faithfully paint an im-age, it's helpful to remember that the challenge is not that you can't do it, but that you haven't done it yet. Avoid thinking in impossibilities. If there's a skill or piece of knowledge you need for a particular project, you can do the homework and work toward it over time. You can train for anything. Learning provides more ways to reliably convey your ideas. From our enlarged menu, we can still choose the sim-plest, most elegant option. To hone your craft is to honor creation. It doesn't matter if you become the best in your field. By practicing to im-prove, you are fulfilling your ultimate purpose on this planet. Clean Slate. After being away for a long enough period of time, when we come back, we just may be able to see it as if for the first time. Time is where learning occurs. Unlearning as well. The Energy (In the Work). The best work is the work you are excited about. Ending to Start Anew (Regeneration). We are part of a constant, interconnected cycle of birth, death, and regeneration. Our bodies decay into the earth to bring forth new life, our energetic mind is returned to the universe to be repurposed. While the artist's goal is greatness, it's also to move for-ward. In service to the next project, we finish the current one. In service to the current project, we finish it so it can be set free into the world. A work of art is not an end point in itself. It's a station on a journey. A chapter in our lives. We acknowledge these transitions by documenting each of them. Play. Seriousness saddles the work with a burden. It misses the playful side of being human. Putting importance on the work too soon stirs up instincts of caution. Instead, we want to break free of the shackles of reality and avoid all forms of creative restraint. Each day is about showing up, building things, breaking them down, experimenting, and surprising ourselves. Find a clue, follow a lead, remain unattached to what came before. And avoid getting stuck with a decision you made five minutes ago. The Art Habit (Sangha). We create in service to art, not for what we can get from art. The Prism of Self. Any framework, method, or label you impose on yourself is just as likely to be a limitation as an opening. Let It Be. First, do no harm. Cooperation. Believing an idea is best because it's ours is an error of inexperience. The ego demands personal authorship, inflating itself at the expense of the art. The best results are found when we're impartial and detached from our own strategies. We all benefit when the best idea is chosen, regardless of whether it's ours or not. When I work with artists, we make an agreement: We continue the process until reaching the point where we are all happy with the work. The moment one collaborator gives in and settles on a less preferential option for the sake of moving forward, everyone loses. Communication is the core of skillful cooperation. When giving feedback, don't make it personal. Always comment on the work itself and not the individual who made it. If a participant takes a critique personally, they tend to shut down. Be as specific as possible with your feedback. Zoom in to discuss the details of what you're seeing and feeling. The more clinical the feedback, the better it will be received. Though you may have a specific fix in mind, hold back from sharing it immediately. The recipient may be able to come up with a better solution on their own. When on the receiving end of feedback, our task is to set aside ego and work to fully understand the critique offered. It requires patience and diligence to get past the story of what you think you're hearing and get close to understanding what's actually being said. When receiving feedback, a useful practice is to repeat back the information. You may find that what you heard isn't what was said. And what was said may not even be what was actually meant. The synergy of a group is as important-if not more important than the talent of the individuals. The Sincerity Dilemma. In art, sincerity is a by-product. It cannot be the primary aim. Anything that allows the audience to access how you see the world is accurate, even if the information is wrong. The Gatekeeper. “Making the simple complicated is commonplace,“ Charles Mingus once said. “Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity?“. Being an artist means to be continually asking, “How can it be better?“ whatever it is. It may be your art, and it may be your life. Why Make Art? There is no separation. We are one. The reason we're alive is to express ourselves in the world. And creating art may be the most effective and beautiful method of doing so. Art goes beyond language, beyond lives. It's a universal way to send messages between each other and through time.