Great artists play on a different field. They don’t follow the same rules, cues, and recipes for for success as most. It’s that simple. Time and again when I see an interview from an artist that has reached the top of their field, their answers become increasingly similar, and it comes down to this basic principle. Nothing else matters outside an artist’s personal drive and vision for what they create. The great ones follow their own unique muse. That muse doesn’t respond to demographics, field research or test screenings. A great artist knows why they are making something, they have great emotion and passion for doing it, and most importantly they have no choice but to follow it.
Dustin Hoffman’s interview displays these points perfectly. When he states, in tears, “That was never a comedy for me,” he’s giving us a small window into the world of that personal muse. When an artist listens to that driving force, the residual of following that passion results in tremendous acclaim and success, but usually they were never interested in that to begin with. “You just lift your head up after blindly following that creative light, and notice your bank account has reached 100 million dollars…,” to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld.
Want to be a great artist? Don’t listen to anyone but yourself.
Jerry Seinfeld on how to write a joke.
Pink Floyd‘s on the fools gold of writing for an audience. (Gilmour interview at 1:28 in the clip.)