A few years ago, a friend gave me the book, Letters to a Young Artist, as a birthday gift. She mentioned she purchased the book at the New Museum on Bowery so I assumed this was to painters. When I started reading this book of support, I was so so wrong. Filled with letters from the well-known and unknown (to me) artists in the world, each short chapter is a letter from them to a young artist (like myself) with words of encouragement. Below, Yoko Ono’s letter to this young artist per this book.
To a Young Artist,
You could be 18, 30, or 50, you are young to have decided to be an artist at this time in your life. First let me congratulate you on your choice. From here on, you enter the endless magic life of being an artist.
The world is your oyster: It will provide you with unlimited material for your art. Look at it again from that point of view. Suddenly the world is a different place, so interesting, so beautiful, and so mysterious. Have fun with it. And share your fun with us.
You, as an artist, will unfold the infinite mystery of life and share it with the world. It may just be two people your work will communicate to. Don’t be upset. Be upset if you are not happy with your work. Never be upset about how many people have seen it, or how many reviews it has received. Your work will exist and keep influencing the world. Moreover, your work will keep changing the very configuration of our world no matter what kind of attention it gets or doesn’t get. So even when you are an unknown artist, be caring of what you make and what you give out. Your work, no matter what, affects the world, and in return, it brings back 10 times what you’ve given out. If you give out junk, you get back junk. If you give out confusion, you will give yourself confusion. If you give out something beautiful, you will get back 10 times more beauty in your life. That’s how it works. You are now like a tree in the park. Your existence is making the city breathe well. So relax and be yourself. Don’t try to be anything but yourself. Rely on your instinct and inspiration. Go with it!
Just like Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, this short book is the support we need as artists which keeps us motivated to keep creating.