“Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” –Konstantin Stanislavski
I love this quote. To me, it separates the artists from everyone else. You can always tell the artists who love the art in themselves. They are bold, subtle, and impressive. You can’t see them working. They embody the character, the song, or the novel. The person they are disappears and only the art remains. It’s fascinating to see.
You can also always tell who loves themselves in the art. They are obvious, grating, and painfully dull. You can see them thinking, begging you to love them. It pulls you out of the film, the painting, or the performance. It’s disappointing.
I have been both of these people. I believe most artists have. Being an artist is an extremely vulnerable enterprise. You are quite literally putting your soul on display. And most, if not all, of us followed this path to gain a degree of validation. Receiving applause at the end of the night is a certain thrill you don’t get in most professions. But to create a piece of art requires a degree of vulnerability that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
So loving yourself in the art tends to be the first stop on the road to artistry for most of us. Feeling accepted for who we are tends to trump artistry in the beginning. And as long as the artist is on the road to growth, it’s fine, understandable and even necessary. But when growth is hampered or stalled, these performers become only that; a performer, an imitator, or a hack.
When you embrace the love of the art, when you love the process of creating, and stop worrying about what you look like on stage or what your parents will think, you can truly begin to love the art in yourself. You open yourself to the muse, you trust your scene partner, you throw all the music theory out the window and just make good music. That’s when the magic happens. That’s when the audience leans forward in their seats. That’s when art becomes a force to be reckoned with.