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The 7 Sins Against the Oeuvre

No artist is without sin.

Though many may scoff at notions of sin for their own reasons,

they are guilty of many other wrongs. Wrongs against what

affords them the grace to call themselves artists in the first place:

All of the work they've done.

All of the work they'll ever do.

The totality of their creative output and proof of their abilities

as artists, as creative spirits.

Their oeuvre and every piece therein.

Though they may honor their work as it's produced, as sacred

as it is to them, it's inevitable that they'll come to debase it.

And though the artist cannot be fully absolved of their sins

against their oeuvre, the artist can aspire for creative salvation,

creative excellence, by way of realizing the artist's highest ideal:

The ideal of artistry.

What is artistry?

Artistry is the ideal many self-proclaimed artists seem to have.

Freedom to explore their creative impulses and having this exploration

support their way of living, especially, finanically.

The production of the oeuvre is what will afford the artist artistry.

But it can't just be any oeuvre. It must be a great one. One of excellence.

One that best reflects its creator's fullest range of ability.

Not just in the creation of their art, but in the creation of their life.

Achieving artistry demands much from the creator.

Many are content to do what they do with their work currently.

But for those that are not, they will come to confront their sinful behavior.

And the time will come where they must invert it.


The Sin Directory

Though more can be noted, the following are the seven most deadly.

  1. Doubt, instead of Belief 🔗

  2. Ambiguity, instead of Clarity 🔗

  3. Drought, instead of Enrichment 🔗

  4. Halting, instead of Advance 🔗

  5. Forfeit, instead of Strategy 🔗

  6. Silence, instead of Communion 🔗

  7. Neglect, instead of Nurture 🔗

* ) The Origin of Sin 🔗

* ) Addendum 🔗

It must be noted that this list of sins assumes

that you're at all capable of achieving artistry.

Such a thing is a privilege that many are simply not afforded.

Sometimes one's economic or geographic standing gets in the way.

Other times, it's a conflict of interest or being in a stifling environment.

But in this disparity, it's not uncommon that some will endeavor

to push and make it happen anyway.

Even if you don't consider yourself to be such a person,

I can only hope this list gives you something to consider.

Motivation and inspiration is the goal, but it's certainly not a guarantee.

Accept or reject these ideas as you see fit.


1) Doubt vs. Belief.

An overarching distrust in one's abilities.

The repeated rejection of a specific possibility,

in this case, the possibility of artistry.

Say that you do, indeed, believe it impossible.

Do you not continue to revisit the possibility?

If you, indeed, did not think it possible,

why do the thoughts continue to arise?

Fantasy, often, is made reality.

Why can't your own reoccurring fantasies also be realized?

Doubt. A lacking of trust, especially, in what you can do.

How does one gain trust in anything at all?

Perhaps, a history of reliability.

A history of something not letting you down.

Distrust (or mistrust in anything) is to lack that history.

And with this, comes the lack of confidence.

If you're imagining a history of being unreliable to yourself,

to others, and your own work, you will, naturally, be prone to doubt.

Steeped in doubt, how could you believe that you could ever deliver?

You'd have no positive ground to stand on.

Ask others about the results you bring.

What do they think of them?

Note your victories and recall them often.

Positive record will quickly outweigh the negative.

2) Ambiguity vs. Clarity.

A blurred, murky view of one's own vision.

It's not uncommon for a creator to be overwhelmed

by all of the ongoings and happenings in the world.

It's no secret that numerous things are trying to

pull you in different directions.

Many people have dozens of favorite songs, shows, series,

artists, writers, world settings, and public icons, and an equal

number of all of these that they absolutely despise.

This form of psychic chaos not only has a significant impact

on what you think and how you think.

It also has an impact on your creations.

What do you focus on when everything is trying to

sway you toward making your creations centered on that?

I believe the sole foundation of your work

should carry and deliver the ideals that move you into action.

Ask yourself: what do you really stand for?

What is something you would die for?

Your loved ones? Your freedom? An ideal future?

Whatever it is, this is your philosophy.

And your philosophy, once refined,

reflects your eternal character: who you are.

If you like creating a certain character,

there's a particular reason that you do.

They might share your ideals.

They might have a set of traits you aspire to have.

They may even behave or think in a similar manner as you.

Get to the bottom of it.

Find out the single word that links your philosophies together.

Find out what both of you really want out of the world.

This will be your guiding principle for everything that you create.

And because the artist transforms and grows as they create,

your guiding principle is subject to change.

However, a guiding principle is not enough.

In order to really begin to leverage this principle,

you need to come to terms with the fact that you are on Earth.

You are a human. Humans have needs that must be fulfilled.

And these needs, at this point in history,

require something that is almost universally despised

by artists and other free spirits.

Capital. Money.

Artistry demands an income from your creative process.

Before you can even begin to aspire to artistry,

you must be clear on where you stand in relation

to your creative process and commerce.

Artistry is not compatible with the disdain of money.

The artist, at best, must tolerate it.

Here are some questions to consider.

Both to assess your own thoughts about money

and to bring about a sharper view of your goals.

  • Do you want to sell your work?

  • Do you loathe the concept of money?

  • If so, why? What imagery does it conjure?

  • Does that imagery apply to you?

  • Do you believe selling your work corrupts it?

  • If so, why? How could you prevent that?

  • Would you rather work in under a company?

  • Could you handle working on projects you don't care about?

Tighten your grasp on where you want to be,

what you would commit to, and what it is that you truly want.

It is then that clarity would be yours.

3) Drought vs. Enrichment.

The bankruptcy of inspiration.

When one's imagination is a barren landscape

where few things flourish and many wilt and wither.

Creations fuel the creation of more creations.

Creation is reproductive and creations are reproductions.

One could probably imagine a family tree of creations

featuring what creations were sourced to birth the new one.

Some would be robust and novel. Others, inbred.

And the latter follows from the isolation and separation

of the wealth of other sources of inspiration in favor of a few.

Inspiration is found everywhere, upon anything.

You just have to look deep enough.

Get specific about your inspiration.

Stop to really consider what's in front of you.

If it's a film, photo, or scene, focus on the composition.

If it's a traditional work, focus on the colors or textures.

With any subject, focus on the form and its lighting.

Buildings have structures. Figures - posing and clothing.

On technical levels, try to assess or find the technique

used to create the work. It doesn't matter if the work is

a book, painting, photo, or a show.

It was made with a method.

All of these are sources you can take from and

immediattely apply to your own work if you like them.

Develop your tastes. See what's adjacent to what

you already like and seek it out.

However, at the same time, be weary when seeking.

If you overwater the garden, what grows will die.

Too much inspiration either spurs creative paralysis

or greater incentive to ideate instead of expressing

the wealth of inspiration you've gathered.

Thought before action is often paramount.

Action usurped by thought is death.

4) Halting vs. Advance.

Hesitancy in the creation of works.

When drafting and creating a work, there are

gestures, forms, and subjects that you avoid.

And when you try to approach them, you stop.

You slow down.

You either pause to consider what to do about them,

or you push through, constantly erasing and reshaping

seeking the perfect form, gesture, composition,

specifically, to the point of frustration.

It may even begin at the very beginning of creation.

And this will prevent you from creating at all.

Even with an abundance of inspiration.

What do you fear?

A mistake?

Where would such a thing happen when "anywhere"

is yet to be created by your hand?

The blank page invites its own destruction.

What destruction is ever perfect?

Who are you letting down by making the first statement,

knowing that you have the power to change it

by the addition and expansion of additional statements?

If fear of error halts you, keep it basic. Keep it small.

The bigger your creation, the larger a mistake seems.

Doing small builds confidence for doing grand.

Halting, however, doesn't end there.

It presents a crossroads. One that reoccurs

no matter how much you try to avoid it.

If you don't permanently halt (that is, quit),

you will choose to narrow your focus on either

the knowns or the unknowns.

If you're prone to halt, you will default to the knowns

but often, one isn't deliberate in this decision.

And by not being deliberate, you don't grow.

Deliberately state your choice.

Will you keep to the knowns or confront the unknown?

If you keep to the knowns, do you want to do it better?

If so, are you really willing to learn to get better? Yes or no?

Be honest with yourself. Then commit to your decision.

If you want to do it, you will make time to do it.

If not, you wouldn't bother, and you'd catch yourself

being dishonest with yourself.

It is through the reoccurrence of this choice that

you have the opportunity to halt or advance.

5) Forfeit vs. Strategy.

A persistence with a goal, devoid of foresight.

Being deliberately directionless is explorative.

In exploration, you are the destination.

There is no external goal and you often know where you are.

With forfeit, one (often) has a desired, external goal.

But not only is the path is undefined, one also does nothing

to create a means to reach it.

With this, you're prone to get lost.

There's an abundance of resources to use that can

help you plot your destination(s) and build a path to them.

But few, if any, will work for you and your idiosyncracies.

You're the one most accustomed to your habits.

But you will go to others to address your weaknesses.

Often, especially now, you go to others indirectly.

You browse forums and sites for advice on how to deal

with your shortcomings, often, by those that have

confronted these problems before.

Sometimes you may, perhaps reluctantly, go to others directly.

And they're great, not just because they see what you cannot.

The feedback you receive is also immediate and specific to you.

But despite any of this, you still have to cobble all of the

information together into a neat little package for yourself.

For you to follow and commit to.

There is no secret nor shortcut to artistry.

But there are things that must constantly be on the forefront

of your attention: the wills that compose and mobilize strategy.

  • What will I make? What's the end result of the work?

  • How will I make it? What are your tools and methods of choice?

  • Who will enjoy it the most? What group and its people?

  • How will I find them? Where do they congregrate?

  • How will I engage? Will I approach to help or persuade?

  • How will I keep giving value? How can you do it sustainably?

  • How will I better this strategy? Where is energy being lost?

Strategy is a sequence that is executed, tried, and refined.

It is a science. And artistry not only demands command

over art and its creation.

It also demands command over science and its methods.

The artist that isn't a scientist is one that is bound to fail.

6) Silence vs. Communion.

Over-absorption in one's own imagination.

The impenetrable fortress of one's own mind

is a comfortable one - one you're inclined to dwell within.

You may be a consistent, diligent, creative machine,

constantly pumping out the works you enjoy,

building up your oeuvre and the world of meaning therein,

but in this, you're committing a sort of transmutation.

Converting the emphemeral into the permanent.

The idea, into the object.

And in this, your bountiful inner fortress

is manifested outwards and all may bear witness to it.

Or so you thought.

Turns out, no one's approaching your work.

Why not? How dare they not see it?

You put in all this work, and for what?

Empty, shallow responses, if any at all?

Why don't they care?

From conception to creation,

your work only meant something to you.

It meant nothing to them.

This externalized fortress is just the externalization

of your own mind and like it or not,

you're the only person that lives in there.

It's all you. And it's the same for everyone else, too.

People care more about their own desires than yours.

If they care about your desires, it's a nice moment of overlap.

If you want to discuss your work because you like x about it,

they might want to continue the conversation to find out y.

They're not you. They don't care about x as much as you do.

Becoming genuinely content with that can take a lifetime.

If strangers will not make the effort of creating the overlap,

then the effort to do so falls on you.

What do you and the people you want to care

about your work have in common?

If you're both creators, you both want people to look

at your work and genuinely engage with it.

You cannot genuinely engage with everything.

You have tastes, standards, and preferences.

So do other people.

If the other people aren't creators the overlap

is found through adjacent interests, namely,

what inspires your creations.

And although this a broad playing field,

you have to know whether or not you both share

those interests to have a conversation about them,

because if you approach them without good reason,

they're going to feel disinclined to talk to you.

It'll feel like a complete waste of time.

Ask real questions that you have about their work.

And even better, give them something they might

find useful, interesting, or inspirational.

If your tastes or interests are similar, they might be

impacted in the exact same way.

In any such conversation, the goal is not to

shove your work down their throat; the goal is to

make a new friend, build a relationship, and

invite them into your fortress to slowly reveal

the depths of your world.

And with that, they may come to do so for you, too.

7) Neglect vs. Nurture.

The abandonment of your creations and their home.

Your creations are your offspring. Mental saplings.

You must provide for every single one of them

throughout all stages of their development.

They deserve your best support.

Your goal as a creator is to help them reach maturity.

This involves allowing them to bear fruit to sustain you.

And this can only be done through commerce.

Refusing to engage in commerce stunts their growth.

And believing that their growth ends upon being sold

often leads to a creation's untimely demise.

Check in on your creations. And do it often.

Endeavor to know if they and their new caretaker are well.

Establish a relationship with them.

Avoid forcing your newest creations upon them.

Notify them that you're still making more creations.

Share ones they may like as personal recommendations.

This doesn't mean you can neglect your unsold creations.

You are bound to return to them, as well.

It's best that you do it deliberately.

Your creations age differently than you.

As you grow, the shine they once had will fade.

Their luster dims, and in turn, they'll gain more to say

about who you were, are, and will be.

Your creations are born to speak to people.

Don't forget that they're born to speak to you, too.

Revisit them and do this often.

They often have new wisdom to impart.

You just have to listen.


*) The Origin of Sin

Any given sin arises from one's background.

And backgrounds are laden with various complexities

that inform the development of these sins.

Just as much as one's nature, temperament, and disposition.

Beyond the sins, one's present environment may still obstruct them.

One may have be taught in a certain way.

Or raised in a certain home.

Or found themselves involved with a certain set of peers.

Or rendered to be in some condition by some set of events.

Any of these may, in some way, obstruct you from artistry.

Not all obstructions can be lifted, but many can be weakened.

What obstructions do you have the power to erode?

If none now, then perhaps time, accompanying action, will provide.

If none truly, artistry is not yours to claim.

But something else will be.

Venture to find it.

The ideal will be yours.

*) Addendum

This resource will remain free and it'll be expanded over time.

Though I intend for it to capture as many creative domains as possible,

it will, naturally, remain focused on visual artists.

No matter your medium of choice, achieving artistry

is a Herculean task that few rarely seek to get help with.

They default to research and either struggle to implement

the things they researched or manage to implement them

only to find that it's not effective as the research made it seem

or that it doesn't fit their pace of creation and strategy.

They fall out of it or pivot away to repeat the cycle again.

Or worse, they quit altogether, fully succumbing to doubt.

Every single sin on this list clouded my approach for years.

If I had help when I needed it most, I would've saved:

  • 3 years of soul-searching.

  • 3 years of desperate research.

  • 3 years of trial and error.

  • 3 years of stress, disappointment, and failure.

  • And 3 years' worth of living expenses.

Where would you be if you had someone giving you

immediate feedback specific to you, your creative habits,

and how you could best utliize them, right here, right now?

Let's get you to where you want to be.

What's your greatest sin?

Shoot me a message.

And we'll get to work.

And if you want more free stuff, join the email list to receive a wealth of insights at the end of every month.

Thanks and welcome aboard!

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