The reason we like art is not because it’s safe.
Think about it. When was the last time you were moved, inspired, or challenged by a movie, book, song, or other piece of art whose creator remained within the safe confines of a box? I mean, don’t get me wrong—it happens. But let’s be honest here. If art isn’t bold, it pretty much sucks. I’m not trying to be harsh. It’s nothing personal. I just believe that the art that “sucks” is produced by artists who possess the aptitude to do so much better.
An artist who is merely trying to please a crowd or not offend anyone will always hold back. What he or she creates will always be a reflection of an untapped potential. Artists, we were made for greatness! We were given an eye that sees the world from angles that others can’t see. And if we allow our art to be defined by what we think people expect, or even want, we’ll go to the grave with those treasures still hidden inside of us.
Fear and art tend to go hand in hand. But they shouldn’t. See, I believe fear in the lives of artists is a strategy used by the enemy of our souls. And that means that as artists what we have to say must be really important. If you’re an artist or creative person, I think you understand what I mean about fear. It plagues you. It gives you “writer’s block,” it keeps you from saying what you really want to say, it makes you keep your creations to yourself instead of sharing them, even makes you doubt your gift. This fear underlies everything you create: that you’re really not good enough and the world doesn’t need what you have to offer.
Oh, but it’s not true. See, everyone deals with fear. This is not the lone plight of the artist. But artists have been given this incredible ability to expose the realities that most people choose to gloss over because they’re easier to ignore. In our art, we say the things that a lot of people think but would never confess because they’re afraid of the reactions or the consequences. And we have this gift to say them in a way that people can accept. Because these bold claims are woven into our stories, our music, our paintings, our dances—and they move and resonate with our audience. An audience is not moved by a mediocre performance. People are not stirred to take action or change their lives because of artists who stay safe.
Artists, the world needs you. Please, please don’t let fear get in the way of tapping into that full well of creativity and releasing the art that might feel utterly crazy to put out there. The best movies and songs and novels started this way. The best pieces of art are the most courageous.
What kind of artist will you be?