I've been drafting an artist manifesto, struggling with and revising it since my dear artist friends, Miranda Schlabach, Taylor Skillen and Jessica Sprunger encouraged me to do so. Though I certainly see this as a living document, I recently "finished" it for a presentation at the Maple Scholars Research summit at Goshen College, an event I was honored to present at.
As most other young people probably know, it's a constant challenge to keep a clear image of yourself in a period of post-grad, job searching and wandering life. I believe challenging oneself to write things like manifestos or statements of belief can help keep us grounded amidst the searching for purpose, questioning of meaning and finding new community.
I tried to avoid using "shoulds," an unhelpful and guilt laden word. Instead, I tried to focus onwhat I strive to do, what makes me create when I'm full of self-doubt, and what has in the past drained the creative juices from me.
After writing this, I am curious what personal and motivating statements other artists have written for themselves. One of my favorite inspirational artists right now is Nikita Zook, currently based in Pittsburgh. Nikita recently created a zine full of the most honest and authentic words of affirmation and encouragement for artists I have come across.
Here are just a few of my favorite pages from her zine I gathered from insta (@nikita.zook)
Thanks for the steadfast inspiration Nikita! And thanks Mandy, Jess and Taylor for the challenge to write and do what we have to in order to sustain our art making.
Art will bring joy to the maker and the viewer.
Art will express common humanity.
Art will reveal truth about the artist and about the world.
It shouldn’t say too much.
It shouldn’t say too little.
Art is valuable. Art is essential. No one even has to see it for it to be valuable. But art is best when shared.
Art is an intimate reflection of the artist.
The artist will radically love self.
The artist will make bad art.
Bad art is essential to making anything good.
It’s okay to get rid of bad art after the artist has learned from it.
The artist will fail. Failure isn’t the worst thing to happen to a person.
The artist will succeed because the artist is an artist. Being an artist is success.
The artist will be an artist whether or not she is creating art.
The artist will have unreasonable hope in each blank canvass/block of clay/pile of junk.
The artist will ignore expectation and instead fulfill her own desire.
The artist will never limit themselves to a catchphrase or mission statement.
An artist who narrows themselves by claiming a statement is no longer just an artist, but a business.
It’s okay to be both, but you can’t be them at the same time.
The artist will create habits that foster creativity.
The artist will find other artists who challenge them to do things like write artist manifestos.
The artist will distract herself with other work so that she longs the studio.
Longing makes good art.
Art will be comfort. Art will be soft. Art will speak when you feel three conflicting things at once.
The artist will never accept “shoulds” from outside sources.
The artist will not stop making.
Thanks for taking the time to read. If this manifesto resonated with you I would love to hear your thoughts! I'm also very curious to hear other artist's manifestos and statements of purpose.