Start copying what you love. Copy, copy, copy, copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself.  Yohji Yamamoto
Start working when you wake up. “Or as soon as possible thereafter. If you can get into it within the first two hours of the day, that should be early enough to get around the pesky demons of daily life. Four hours is too long; the demons will take you down.”
Start making your mark. “If you’re worried about drawing, start by making simple marks. Tell yourself you’re just playing, experimenting, outlining, seeing what looks like what. If you can write, you already know how to draw. As you work, pay attention to everything you’re experiencing. Don’t think good or bad. Think useful, pleasurable, strange, lucky. Carry a sketchbook with you at all times. Take pictures on your phone if that helps you to remember things. When your thoughts start racing, don’t be passive — get them down on paper.”
Start imitating … then develop your own style. “Imitation is a key to learning. We all start as copycats, trying on other people’s forms and styles for size. It’s fine! Just don’t stop there. If all you do is pastiche, your work will end up as predictable art-lite, or picturesque kitsch.”
Start creating your studio. “It’s a ritual arena where you will achieve maximum diversity in a minimum of space. In the studio, get into your body. Breathe, pace, do whatever it takes to prepare yourself. Leave something a little unfinished each day; it’ll help you get back into your work the next morning. The decor of your studio will bleed into your imagination, so think about the postcards, personal objects, other artworks you display there, and change them up regularly.”
Start embedding thought into your artwork. “Your goal as an artist is to use physical materials to make these thoughts and emotions, however simple or complex, accessible to the viewer. If you fail to use your materials fully, your work may end up starved for ideas. A work of art cannot depend on explanation. The meaning has got to be there in the work. As Frank Stella said, ‘There are no good ideas for paintings, there are only good paintings.’ The painting becomes the idea.”
Start finishing what you start. “Everyone thinks their work might be better, if only they had a little more time with it. Your own work will never be perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. Nothing is ever really just right; there’s always more you can do. Too bad. It’s as good as it can be right now, and that’s probably more than good enough. You’ll make the next one better, or different, or more like yourself. Do not get hung up working on one super-project forever. For now, make something, learn something, and move on. Or you’ll be buried waist-deep in the big muddy of perfectionism.”

About the Image
Talk about starting work as soon as you wake up! Mexican artist Frida Kahlo often used her bed as her studio. At the age of 18, Frida was in a bus accident that gave her extreme pain, intermittently, for the rest of her life. Shortly after the accident, her mother constructed a bed easel that Frida used — on and off — until she died, meaning she was able to create some of her most famous works, like Portrait of Frida's Family, totally supine. This brings to mind author G.K. Chesterton’s observation that “lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.”
Adapted from How to Be an Artist by Jerry Saltz
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