A Letter To The Young Artist

Dear Young Artist, I write this letter with the belief that you are a lot like me. A lot like I was when I was your age and a lot like I still am now. If you're not, I hope you can forgive my assumption. But maybe if you are, there's something I can tell you.

I know right now at your age, you feel raw. You're a mess of all these sharp edges and soft spots and every time you get close to someone either they get cut or you do. Someone always seems to be bleeding, no matter what you do or how gingerly you try to treat the world and get the world to treat you.

I'm going to tell you now that this isn't going to change.

Do you know why you're an artist? Do you know why you have this incredible desire to paint or draw or write or dance?

It's because you feel things more deeply than others. You're more sensitive. All this brushing against other people that feel more like brushes with death sometimes, they might not have noticed the same thing. They might not have taken it as seriously as you did. That doesn't mean their experience is any less valid, but it also doesn't mean yours is either.

There are going to be many times in your life that things are hard. You're going to say something stupid or do something stupid or feel something stupid. You're going to hurt, and I mean that in both ways that it can be taken. You won't understand the things that happen to you or the way others can't seem to quite interact with you properly and you'll constantly feel like if you just had that one thing, everything would be perfect.

And if you're at all lucky, you'll have a lifetime full of these moments.

What they should tell you on day one of life, my young creative, is that these are the things from which art comes. The reason you were made so sensitive in your life is so that you can be use the same sensitivity towards your art. You can take these things that you feel so deeply and you can put them into words or colors or movement.

I won't tell you that beauty always comes from pain. It doesn't. Hardness, callouses, distance. These all come from pain too.

But beauty can come from pain, if you find a way to let it.

Everyone gets hurt. Everyone. And I know that no one can hurt quite the way that you do. I know it because I've felt that so many times.

What you need to remember, what I need to remember, is that your unique situation - your fears and doubts and yes, even your pain - is the bedrock of your unique point of you. That's where your art comes from.

Sad to say, but there doesn't seem to be a way to numb one without dulling the other.

I suppose you could look at this letter as a message saying "prepare yourself for a life of pain!" In a way, I am. But also, and please don't miss this, that pain will make you the person you were always meant to be, if you let it.

And I believe that person you were always meant to be has something brilliant to show the rest of us.

So show us. We need it.

We need you.

Love,

Michael