David Bowie. David Bowie.

Even though art forms vary, the challenge of being an artist is remarkably consistent across different practices, which is why animation artists will benefit as much as anyone else to listen to these ideas from the late David Bowie on how to succeed as an artist.

The video, an excerpt from the 1997 documentary Inspirations, is just a minute long, but in that minute, Bowie offers three succinct and timeless insights into what it takes to become an artist who leaves a mark in their field. You’ve probably heard similar ideas expressed elsewhere – many other great artists have ultimately reached the same conclusions – but rarely do these ideas come in such a pithy and unpretentious package.

Here is Bowie’s advice in the clip:

  1. Create for yourself. “Never play to the gallery … [N]ever work for other people in what you do. Always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt that if you could manifest it in some way you would understand more about yourself and how you co-exist with the rest of society.”
  2. Don’t give people what you think they want. “I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations. They generally produce their worst work when they do that.”
  3. Push beyond your comfort level as an artist. “If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
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Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Cartoon Brew's Publisher and Editor-at-large.

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