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Are you willing to make bad art?

You say that you only want to make "good" art. Who can blame you? The only problem with making good art is that sometimes, in order to make good art, we have to be willing to make bad art.

Styles mature spasmodically. Sometimes we write poorly on our way to writing better. Sometimes we paint poorly-- on our way to painting better.

We must not deny ourselves the dignity of growth. I keep a sign posted in my work area that reads "I am willing to make bad art." Sometimes visitors read that sign and are appalled at me. I have to parse it out for them. The sign does not say "I plan to make bad art." It merely says I am willing to make bad art. By being willing to make bad art, I am free to make any art-- and often, art that is very good.

Willing to make "bad" art, what we actually are is willing to make progress. 


12 Comments on "Are you willing to make bad art?"

  1. i feel my artistic ability is a bit underdeveloped. it does not stop me from creating art that is emotionally powerful

  2. This is a concept that has really resonated with me and allowed me to progress as a writer. I used to get discouraged when I sat down to write and all that came out was inane dribble. But it was getting that inane dribble onto the page that eventually unveiled nuggets of truth that had been hidden by the various distractions and worries that too often clutter my mind.

  3. I’ve made some wonderfully bad art… but without it, I wouldn’t have learned, grown, and made the occasional brilliant work that makes all the bad reviews worth it.

  4. Count me in, Julia! I am all for making a glorious mess — both in writing and in painting — and seeing what cramazingness comes out of it in the end!

  5. I make bad art but happy art. Now that I have learned to leave stress behind. One day I will have a breakthrough and make good art that others will enjoy.

  6. Yes. Yes. And YES! The art of not being self-judgmental in our constant pursuit of bettering our art, even if at times we think it stinks.

  7. I agree. It is necessary to take the chance that you may make bad art on your way to making good art. It takes courage and faith to create. It also helps to have the knowledge that the “process of creating” takes practice and some getting used to and that in developing that process some of the art that is created is not end that one wants, however, knowledge was gained for the future.

  8. I am willing to make good,bad,whatever art,I refuse to judge it anymore,I make it and let it go…no such thing as good/bad art to me anymore,art is creativity and creativity is God,that will do me x

  9. Profile photo of Dunia

    It’s hard. I tend to judge my writing and my intents on mixed media constantly, and that is paralyzing. This has been a huge obstacle throughout the years, the thought being: “It’s better to do nothing than to do it “wrong” “. I know it sounds terrible, but that’s how it’s been.The result: doing nothing!! I don’t want this anymore. I’m willing to stop judging and start creating, I have tons of images and ideas and colors and feelings and thoughts that just need to go outside and play!!! And I’m going to need help to let this happen.

    • I could have written the last post myself, I feel so paralysed with the standard of perfectionism I seem to expect when I do anything artistic, I end up doing nothing. Well up until recently, I’m enjoying week six of the course with a fantastic group of co-creators, and things are shifting. I’m more patient with myself and far less critical. When you hand it all back to God, you don’t have to excuse it anymore!

  10. Matthew Floyd Miller says:

    Thanks for this reminder Julia. I am an actor and just did my second TV gig with a nice juicy little scene. Being a co-star on an established show is a hard job. You are the ‘new kid at school’ for a short time. My scene was very emotional and I feel both good about some parts and terrified that my acting was bad in others. Really one of the hardest days acting I have had in my life. And I have had a lot of days acting in my life.
    So it is good to remember that I can allow myself to make bad art, or potentially bad art. I get to grow.
    I did the Artist’s Way about fifteen years ago and it changed my life. Shortly after starting it, for example, after deciding about some projects I really wanted to do, I booked my first Broadway show and somewhat co produced a play I had always wanted to do. Great stuff. I have always wanted to tell you thank you.
    xo Matt

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