The Artist Paradox

Why you should create — even though there’s already far too much in the world already.

The Artist Never Leaves by Caleb Salomons

Why you should create — even though there’s already far too much in the world already.

Six years ago, when Medium was first starting out, it was invite-only and was created by one of the founder’s of Twitter to simply publish thoughts longer than the then-limit of 140 characters. Oh, how so much has changed — and so quickly.

Medium has now grown into momentous platform that allows anybody to share their story freely and easily. The growth in such a small amount of time is absurd — but Medium is just the tip of the social media revolution iceberg.

Twitter itself was founded eleven years ago. If we go back further, to thirteen years ago, YouTube was founded. A year before that, Facebook. This was coupled with the exponential development of hardware, which now allows anybody to utilize these platforms within seconds from the palm of their hand.

I’m going to be 22-years-old in a month, and I’m not joking when I tell you that I cannot remember what life was like before these platforms, and the Internet as a whole existed. And yet, it fundamentally didn’t exist before I was born. This is a fantastic revolution for the people, isn’t it?

Anybody can be an artist — but that’s an outdated saying. Nowadays, anybody can be a creative, anybody can be an influencer. There is an exciting freedom that comes from this, but there are also unforeseen consequences.

It is too easy to latch onto the cynical views often held by an aging population who confront the digital revolution with confusion and hostility. It is also too easy to become despondent with the apathy and nihilism often held by a younger population towards the system at large.

Both this cynicism and apathy are why I am writing this. The person with the most talent does not become the most popular or successful — you just have to know how to game the system, you just have to have a head start, right?

No. This sort of pessimism and defeatist attitude is what stops many aspiring creators before they even begin. Yes, there is an oversaturation of art, of writing, of music, of film. We could halt the creation of anything new and truly still have entertainment for decades upon decades.

This is the consequence of letting anybody freely put their thoughts out into the world without hassle. It creates a white noise of overrated marketeers, it hides the obscure and talented craftspeople.

At this point, the only thing stopping you from putting yourself out there is yourself. The enemy is the fear and self-doubt that will inevitably arise — and it’s not without warrant. You can put your blood, sweat, and tears into good work, and have it only receive a few dozen views, or a couple cents in ad revenue.

Often times, people who want to try to create will first seek the guidance of others. This is a mistake. You cannot become a creator if you’re still only consuming content, like many others.

Many people out there will claim they know the secrets of success, but will only share it with you if you subscribe to their mailing list, or buy their course on the subject matter. (Originally sold for $1,399, but since they like you so much, they’re giving you a deep discount and you’ll only have to spend $99!)

The best advice is what people have already heard time and time again: There is no better teacher than experience. You just have to go out there and do it. You definitely will suck at first. You will have to get over the fact you feel like a miserable failure.

This is why you have to create anyways, even if you don’t think what you’re creating is worth the time to make or worth the time to look at. You cannot just wait around, hoping that a unique and powerful voice will come to you. You have to develop it, slowly over time.

In all honesty, I didn’t write this essay for aspiring artists — I wrote it for myself. It’s difficult for me to find justification for writing anything at times, as though I have nothing unique to share due to my lack of knowledge or experience.

Though, the truth is that a good storyteller can make a good story out of anything, and a lot of people are looking for a good story.