To Art or Not to Art

We almost intentionally inflict upon ourselves harm in the pursuit of art – damage that’s only made worse by society’s misunderstanding of why we do the things we do.

Out of obligation, of course.

What obligation? Now, that is hard to explain.

So we fall victim to self-blame.

Ironically, it’s the surrendering to that urge and delirium that also cures our pain while simultaneously adding to our suffering.

Do we reach a point where it all becomes okay? I don’t believe so. I think we just get better at coping.


Should you get on with the program, settle down, and get a job manufacturing replicas of the next trending design?

I don’t know. I’m not the one to answer that question for you.

Here’s what I can tell you, though – if you can’t rest peacefully without writing your story; orchestrating your symphony; sending your message, then you shouldn’t give it up.


Over the years, art has been increasingly commodified.

Advertising and the integration of media into every aspect of business blurred the lines between art and design.

An artist can make a good design; a designer can’t necessarily make good art.

Because art is lived and experienced. You must consciously seek it or it will die. You will lose your artistic ability.


This understanding leads me to believe that pursuing art:

  • A) Is not an optional but an essential pursuit for some.
  • B) Can’t be put off to “when you’re ready”.

If your soul burns to interpret the world through words, sounds, or visuals, don’t let go of that feeling.

A creative job in a creative industry will not necessarily curb your hunger.

Find time to practice your art even if you’re not working as an artist. Build your “art portfolio” – a collective of works that embody you and your story – separate from your “work portfolio”.

In art, there’s no corporate ladder to climb. So, be sure to align your art with your values and who you are.

Don’t wait until you’re financially stable or have a larger network. Start today.


Am I implying that you shouldn’t take that job at the agency or work on any commercial/corporate projects? Not at all.

In fact, you should take that job. You should take on every opportunity to learn and grow as an artist.

All of these experiences – doing unrelated work, empathizing with folks from different walks of life, and understanding different processes, will add to your understanding of what art is and how to make better art.

Because at the end of the day, art is not just about the output, it’s arguably more about synthesizing the inputs.

Now, go out and do something for yourself.

Khalid A
Khalid A
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