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Additional advice to future artists Additional advice to future artists
by Joseph Gatt
2019-12-05 09:21:34
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Some quick advice to painters, musicians, stand-up comedians, playwrights, actors, fiction writers and poets. Just some advice over a couple of drinks, I could be wrong. 

Advice for painters

If you want a career in painting, you want to paint every single day for several hours a day. You will paint today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, every day of the week. When you start doing that for several weeks, months, years, you probably will become famous.

artt01_400The Picassos and Dalis and Monets and Van Goghs and Poussins and Chagals and others were famous because, rule number one, they painted every day. Rule number 2, back in the day, zealous painters used to gather in Paris, so they all moved to Paris.

Today most zealous painters are in New York City or California, but if you only paint a few times a year, you will be a pariah and they will make fun of you, as most zealous painters expose hundreds, in some cases thousands of paintings.

Do you need to go to art school to learn creativity? I would say you're more likely to learn drugs and heavy partying than creativity in art school. You want to work a day job as a cashier or waiter or any job you can get, and try to look around you for creativity. God did not grant me the gift of painting. But if I were to paint right now, I would probably spend the week painting mug shots of famous politicians. Next week I would probably paint modern still lives, that is a basket of fruit surrounded by big brand bottles of juice and water. The week after that I would probably paint still lives of traffic jams and traffic signs in different languages, some kind of surreal traffic jam scene with signs in six different languages and pink and purple “Hello Kitty” style cars. You get the idea. 

Advice for musicians

Unlike painting where it's mostly oil on canvas, in music, you have to be familiar with several instruments, rhythm, poetry and partitions.

So here's my advice. You want to work on a few dozen songs. Write them. Perform them at small venues. Track the audience reaction carefully. You want to notice when the audience is listening in, when the audience is enthused, and when the audience is back to sipping their drink and chatting with each other.

The more you play those songs with your audience, the more feedback you will get, the more you will have to rework those songs. Ditch those songs that cause your audience to fall asleep, and keep and improve those songs that cause enthusiasm at the pub.

You then want to do some soul searching. Are the lyrics the problem? Is it the music? Is it the vocals? Keep testing your music until you get a crowd that follows all your music with enthusiasm. You will then have people drop by the pub just for your music, then the demand for your music will grow so big that some producer will give you a hearing and invite you to record an album.

There could be creative differences with your producer. Sometimes your producer knows better, sometimes you know better. The idea is you want to work with your producer's suggestions first. If the album flops, you are now in a power position and can dictate your music to your producer. If your producer won't take your suggestions, you can always leave the label and other labels will come courting you.

Bottom line: work on your music every day, several hours a day, and within a year or two or three, if you're attentive to feedback, your music will be huge.

Advice for stand-up comedians

I'm not a stand-up comedian, but did win the grand prize at a speech contest which was a stand-up comedy skit of sorts. How did I win the prize (and the praise)? I wrote a poorly-written script in Korean, which is not my first language. I had two coaches (Mr and Mrs Lee). We did a first rehearsal, where Mr and Mrs Lee (who are not a couple or related) took notes and fixed my script a bit.

The following day I did about five rehearsals, nixing the bits in the script I was not comfortable with or that did not come off naturally. The following day we did another six or seven rehearsals, until I had memorized the script and performing it became second nature. That's when we decided to include about three interactive moments with the crowd (it was a 12 minute speech).

I then went home and rehearsed the script about 30 times. Then went back to school and rehearsed the script in front of a small audience that included Mr and Mrs Lee.

The day before D-Day, I rehearsed the script about 30 times again. On D-Day, I did three final rehearsals with Mr and Mrs Lee, before we did three test rehearsals on the stage where the speech contest was to take place. As the audience starting coming in, I singled out three individuals and asked them to prepare to answer my questions as I did the skit.

During the skit, every single punchline worked. The audience was enthused. Mr Lee could not hold his tears. When I asked the audience questions, everyone chipped in. It was 12 minutes of bliss. The speech was something along the lines of “I have no one to talk to in Korea that's why I'm doing this speech with you guys. So because I have no one to talk to I usually take taxis just so I can have a chat with taxi drivers.” and so on and so forth.

 So you get the idea. Work on a script. Find Mr and Mrs Lee. Rehearse, rework your script, invite Mr and Mrs Lee to help you out with the script. Rehearse a hundred times. And you will be a YouTube sensation and will marry a pornstar like most stand-up comedians do.

Advice for playwrights, fiction writers and poets

I bet you're now getting the idea where you have to work together with a team, and constantly rework your script until it speaks to the audience.

So the idea with fiction writing is you need to tell a good story. You don't want to get into fiction writing because it's the kind of job where you don't need to get out of bed in the morning and the kind of job where you can have a couple of drinks for lunch. Or the kind of job where you can go to pubs and talk about being a “gay writer” all night with strangers.

For good fiction writing, you're going to need a very profound grasp of the subject. Even though it's fiction, you need to be telling the “truth”. That is if you have a shabby grasping of the subject, your readers and audience is going to be confused at best, irritated at worst.

So study everything there is to study about the subject you are about to tackle. If it's anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, you need to know everything you can about the Vietnam War, its politics, and the sentiments on campuses. If you're writing about romance in royal families, you need to know everything you can about how royal families actually work. If you want to write about secret societies, you want to try to read everything you can find about them. Otherwise your work will “irritate” readers by its approximations and unrealism. If it's science fiction, read everything you can about astrophysics and robotics.

Finally, regarding poetry, you want to be sincere. The best poets are those who express themselves with sincerity. Prose, rhymes and meter and verse don't really matter as long as you're expressing sincere feelings.

Finally, Advice for actors

Very quickly. Most casting agents will try to figure out your life story and try to see how it fits in with the character you're going to play. So your life story will be important, which is why most A-listers emphasize their crazy past or unusual background.

However, your life story does not make the cut if that's all you have. You want natural acting skills, and you also want to build a portfolio of characters. The characters you played in your career will also play a decisive role in whether you get the part. So you want to play a good diversity of characters in smaller productions.

Finally, the audition is going to be a deal maker or a deal breaker. Rehearse for the part 80 times, 100 times, or more. Rehearse until you become completely natural with the character, and that will enthuse the casting agent. That way you won't need to sleep with the casting agent to get the part.

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