UNDERGROUNDPhilosophy of an artist

The Creative Underground always intrudes when I least expect it. Who would expect to be contacted in the stall of a public restroom? One of their agents slid a note to my feet and walked out. Who would expect to find a cereal box at Kroger’s that has a message printed just for you (full name, I might add) on the nutrition label? This is a game to them. It’s as if they’re saying, “Look at you Nick, with your predictable routines! Your patterns and systems and traditions!” In spite of all this I admit, the Creative Underground’s messages are so valuable to me. I cannot deny them that. The following is what they’ve written me today;


To Mr. Nick;

In the public eye, there are really only two distinct life philosophies for Artists.

Philosophy #1: “Create Art for You.” Living out this philosophy looks like this; You will get a day job, or you will live like a dog. You may slip slowly into insanity, working tirelessly to prove yourself as an artist while also believing that you don’t care at all what people think. You will not have “Sold Out”, which is the greatest sin of Philosophy #1 and should be avoided at all costs – at all costs. At the cost of friends, family, and life itself. What is life even, if your artistic vision is denied you?

Philosophy #2: “Create Art for Others.” Sure, this philosophy is less ego driven. You might make the rent. You can get a job designing high school t-shirts for a screen-printing shop. That’s still art, right?…right? Who are you asking? Things start looking a little more business-like, a little less passion driven. But hey, got to make a living! As the infamous ‘Ad Busters Magazine’ quote goes, “I wanted to be an artist, but instead I became a graphic designer.”

Seen these before? Philosophy #1 feels selfish, while Philosophy #2 loses its edge and always wanders what could have been. But friend, you do not have to choose between expression and service. What if we could tell you of a radical 3rd Philosophy?

Philosophy #3: “Create for Others, as You’d Create for Yourself.” What if you could create your own work sincerely, in the hopes that it connects with others for their benefit? What if you could also create things for others in a way that has the same energy and quality of anything, you’d make for yourself? Philosophy #3 applies the same wisdom found in the words of Christ – to art. Do unto others. Love your neighbor as yourself. This is the way we advise you. In order to know how to create for others, you must know how to create for yourself. Once you know both with sincerity, you will be free.

With Love from the Creative Underground.

P.S. Create For Good.