In our Culture Issue of 2022, published on April 24, T followed a group of artists – musicians, chefs, designers, writers and others – over a day, exploring the intimate moments of their lives that contribute, in small and large ways, to their creative process.
Every creative person knows that inspiration is everywhere, and yet the question is What inspires you? can be both boring and impossible to answer. Inspiration, the alchemy by which an idea comes from the mind to the page (or canvas or pottery wheel or dress form), is often unpronounceable or somehow unsatisfactory. What feels so clear, once spoken, can sound tinny or fragile or banal. That’s why I often feel that artists find not only comfort but hope by hearing instead about other artists’ processes – what do she do, these other people, to make art happen? How to do she to create? what could be? their easing struggles over our own?
This song is dedicated to living a creative life, something that we all have at our disposal, whether we are self-proclaimed artists or not. We asked people of all ages, genders, races and media to explain how they create and, just as importantly, Why they create. Over the past two years, many of us, fortunate enough to have a clean and safe place to live, have come to the conclusion that making things is one of life’s greatest joys: be it bread, furniture or clothing. is. Pleasure is one reason why, of course, but there are others, some of which are unexplainable.
The 34 people profiled in this issue bear witness not only to the diversity of art, but also to the diversity of artistic experience. Some I know personally – they are good friends (the architect Daniel Romualdez, the fashion designer Daniel Roseberry), collaborators (the theater director Ivo van Hove) or former colleagues (the playwright Mona Mansour) – but I consider them all teachers: they are proof that, often times, the best work is done doing things that don’t look like work at all. Art is made for the easel, but it is just as often made while gardening, waiting for the subway or sitting on a bench in the park. Art takes place in the liminal moments of the day, the moments when we are able, for a few minutes or hours, to forget the self-consciousness of creation and let our minds wander.
Photo by Joel Meyerowitz. Styled by Jason Rider. Hair by Tomo Jidai. Care by Dan Duran
Photo by Joshua Kissi. Styled by Ian Bradley. Hair by Kendall Dorsey. Makeup by Evelyn McCullough
Photo by Christopher Anderson. Hair by Sebastien Le Coroller. Makeup by Carole Hannah
Photo by Kennedy Carter. Styled by Tess Herbert. Care by Grace Pae
In addition to reminding readers that art requires a state of receptivity, we also wanted to ask artists for advice: how do you live? How does one proceed? The answers, from 40 artists, are practical (“Pay your taxes”), inspiring (“You get more respect for yourself…when you say no”) and contradictory (“I have always been very, very ambitious”; “I lack to ambition”).
One of the reasons I like their advice so much is that after my day at the magazine is over, I also try to make art. And because I’m the editor-in-chief of this publication, and because I’m a fiction writer, I’m privileged to use this letter to offer my own advice: Keep your day job – it means never having to make creative concessions for money. No internal criticism or praise – no one’s opinion of you or your art should be more important than your own. Engage in art outside of the genre you practice – it will remind you how many different ways there are to think, resolve and be. Forget what you have been taught about good practices and habits – for example, there is not one right way to write; becoming so much of an artist is unlearning what you think being an artist is. If you can travel, do so, preferably to a place you’ve never been and where you don’t know anyone – a state of unease is a fertile place to be. And finally, at some point you have to end up: the people who get published aren’t necessarily the most brilliant writers — the people who get published are the ones who finish their work.
It all seems so simple, doesn’t it? And maybe it is. After all, making art is mysterious. It’s also annoying. And somewhere between those two poles is where the artist lives: magic and toil, day after day, for all the happy years of our lives. —HANYA YANAGIHARA