Warhol and Satriani on making art

THOSE people who know me well will know that I do like a bit of rock music and one of the best sounds in the world to me is a cranked electric guitar. Joe Satriani has long been at the top of my all time list of great guitarists. I even bought a JS24P guitar for a recent significant birthday – that’s it at the top.

Joe is a true all round creative though. He released a book of his drawings last year and I was lucky enough to get given a copy of it. A full colour, coffee table style book, it shows a different side of the man who come up with Strange, Beautiful Music (the name of Satriani’s publishing company)

In an recent Music Radar interview for the release of his upcoming Complete Studio Recordings album package, Joe talked about the task of remastering  his 14 studio albums and the temptation give in to his legendary perfectionism. His longtime engineer and producer John Cuniberti sent Joe an email with an Andy Warhol quote in it. The quote was:

‘Don’t think about making art. Just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they’re deciding, make even more art.’

That quote kept Satriani focussed on moving the project along. A reminder of the big picture.

The quote resonated with me (and not just Joe is probably the best guitarist on the planet). The same can be said of writing. We all know that the best way to get results is to draft then redraft followed by redraft.

But that’s a recipe for perfectionism. At some point the work has to “get done”. Perfectionism can be a form of procrastination (one of my deadly sins). Another hero of mine, Neil Gaiman, referring to art in the broader sense, said something similar in his Make Good Art speech. Gaiman said:

‘I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something.’

Yes, you have to Make Good Art which both Gaiman and Satriani have managed to do, but to start with they had to make something. If you are scared to put something out there until you feel it will be free from criticism or be perfect – don’t be.

Get it done, get it out and while others are deciding or, in this age of information overload, ignoring get some more doing done (very bad I know but it felt… nicer!)

Read what I learnt from Gaiman’s speech here and here.

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