You Are An Artist

Whether you like it or not

In his latest book, The Artist’s Journey, Steven Pressfield makes an interesting observation:

Art is self-discovery, not self-expression.

We think of artists as people with innate gifts, some kind of mysterious talent that they can’t help but share. According to Steven, that’s not true.

Pressfield suggests that rather than expressing something that already exists, the artist discovers herself. One day, one piece of work, one insight at a time. Only at the end of her life can she look back, find her theme, and say: “Ahh, so that was my destiny.”

If you think of it this way, all humans are artists. Including you. Because we all have to find ourselves one thought, one step, one dot at a time. Life is a journey of self-discovery, and every day we add another piece of the puzzle.

I like this idea because now, art isn’t about a particular kind of craft or the resulting work or even the individual artist. It’s about people. Humanity as a whole.

Yesterday, for example, we lost one of the greatest pieces of art in our short history:

Notre Dame.

But, as the saying goes, “things of quality have no fear of time.” We may lose a building, a painting, a manuscript, even the artist himself, but never the stories surrounding them.

That’s the art of being human: As we find our place in life, we all tell stories.

Stories at the dinner table. Stories we only dare whisper into our best friend’s ear. Stories we’re more comfortable telling through a piece of work. But they’re all stories.

As long as we keep telling them, our greatest art will live forever.

Including what we find in ourselves along the way.

-Nik


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