Letters to an Artist

Kristin Harris shared this excerpt from Letters to a Young Artist. (Not to be confused with the equally insightful Letters to a Young Poet for all you Rainer Rilke fans.)

The artist Xu Bing responds to the query of a recent art school graduate plagued by the question: is it possible to maintain one’s integrity … and participate in the art world?

Bing’s response is priceless and filled with wisdom every young (and old) artist should read and re-read. Some highlights for me:

Have courage when it comes to your future and your artistic responsibilities, it is the first condition of success.

Using your limitations well transforms them into a strength.

The majority of people spend time working other jobs to support themselves. It may seem like wasting time that could be used for creating art, but as long as you are a true artist every field that you are engaged in outside of art circles will produce treasure, which sooner or later will be used in the creation of art.

You must bring something new and original for the public to have a reason to accept you. Too many artists already know how to make “standard” contemporary art.

Your plight and your problems are actually the source of your artistic creation.

A good artist is a thinking person, adept at translating thoughts into the language of art.


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One Response to “Letters to an Artist”

  1. Kristin Reiber Harris Says:

    I am pleased you found this insightful and passed it on so even more people can read it. I had a chance 10 days ago to see Xu Bing’s exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond and see the physical manifestation of his creative mind. There is an interesting video about his process in this show on the VMFA website.

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