Dr. Sergey Zagraevsky
to conquer the world
(advices for young creators)
Published in Russian:
Çàãðàåâñêèé Ñ.Â. Êàê
çàâîåâàòü ìèð (ñîâåòû ìîëîäûì òâîðöàì). In journal «Õóäîæåñòâåííûé ñîâåò», ¹ 3
(79), 2011, p. 20-22.
Are you a painter, graphic artist, sculptor? Or a
writer-novelist, poet, playwright? Or a photographer? Or an architect? Or a composer? Or you
create works of art in any other field? Or are you only going to become a creator?
Do you expect fame, popularity and all life benefits associated with these
words? Or maybe the grateful memory of the posterity is more important for you?
Or maybe you just want to do your favorite work – art, even if it will bring
you nothing but moral satisfaction?
If you can answer positively at least one of these
questions, then let me give you some advices. We are colleagues if not by
profession, then by spirit. And no matter how old you are – entering the
mysterious world of art, you go with me on the same path. So it's my duty to
share my experience with you.
1. Remember the simple thing: all creators in all
times had hard lives.
2. Make a logical conclusion from this truism: if you
decide to engage in creativity seriously and professionally, you must be ready
for difficulties and not be surprised when meeting with them. Easy life isn't
waiting for you.
3. Let's be honest with each other and ourselves:
although creativity is not an enterprise, we are still creating a
"product" – works of art, and we want this "product" to
find a response and demand in the world. Maybe we will be reproached for this
desire by Pushkin's words:
Those are blessed, who hided in
The highest creatures of their souls
From other peoples, as from graves,
And were not anxious of glory!
Those are blessed, who were inside
And did not wear thorny wreaths on
Forgotten by the peoples rude,
Without any name forever left!
But we will remember Pushkin's answer to these words:
Lord Byron had the same opinion;
said such words a lot;
But world has learned them quiet
And their sweety
works were sold.
So let's be honest: our main task is to make the world
"learn and buy" our works, even after our death. And a frankly and
openly formulated task can be solved much easier than a veiled one.
4. You want to create, but don't feel inspired? I'm
sorry, but this is illogical. Maybe you don't want to create? If you really want,
the inspiration will come sooner or later. So do not worry about that and
remember that you are neither the first, nor the last who
faces such problems. Pushkin wrote also about this situation:
While the poet is not required
For holy sacrifice unto Apollo,
Within the bustling worldly cares
He is faint-heartedly immersed…
Listen to the classic and immerse yourself in everyday
cares. You probably have enough of them. But do not forget to listen to
yourself all the time: aren’t you required by Apollo?..
5. You're not sure if you have any talent? Then first
of all, try to look at your works impartially (and if they do not exist yet,
then on projects and plans) and ask yourself: are they original? Did someone do
that before you or not? If in our time, when it is very difficult to create
something new, you have succeeded – then everything is in order.
6. Talent is only a good starting position,
originality is only a necessary minimum. Professionalism is needed, too. Personally,
I like mostly such definition of it: the ability to use the necessary tools to
achieve a creative goal. Someone will tell you that special education is required,
and will be in his own right. Someone will say that there are talented self-taughts, and will also be in his own right. Someone will
say that creative skills are most effectively transferred in personal training
from some famous master, and will also be right in its own way. Someone will
say that professionalism comes with experience, and will also be right in its
own way. There are many options, choose any.
7. Your works of art are talented, original and
professional, but only you and a few friends know about it? Then it's time to
start expanding the circle of acquaintances among colleagues. Listen to
everything they say to you (not only good, but also bad), but with an eye: aren’t
they led by envy? Aren’t they led by ideological rejection of your works? For
example, at all times, "academicians" and "modernists" (and
not only they) criticized each other very harshly, up to complete rejection.
But, fortunately, in our time, art is infinitely diverse, and in the end, all
the "isms" find their connoisseurs. So just get information from
others, and make your own conclusions.
8. Remember that one of the most difficult stages that
you have to overcome when choosing a creative profession is when people around
you say something like: "Why do you need it?", "You can't do it",
"It's not yours"… If you can overcome this stage – it will be easier
to continue at least morally.
9. If you are praised – it is better to treat it with
indifference, but if you are pleased by the praise, nothing wrong with that, it
is only a pardonable weakness. If you are scold – remember the words of Dale
Carnegie: no one beats a dead dog. The main thing: always pay attention to what
you are praised or scolded for, and draw conclusions not from emotions, but
from the essence. Let praise and cursing help you to form an opinion on your works.
10. Remember that the main measure of your creativity
is your own opinion about it. Again, I refer to the authority of the classic:
A poet! Do not prize the love of
It soon will pass – the glorifying
And come a court of fools and
laughing of cold crowd –
But you must always stay firm, morose
You're king: live lonesome. Along the
Stride there, to where just shows
your free mind,
While modernizing fruits of thoughts,
And not demanding you to be awarded.
of you. You are your highest court;
Severely then all, you value your
But remember that excessive self-confidence also
hurts, especially if it turns into shamelessness and arrogance. May I remember
again the words of a classic – this time not of Pushkin, but of Ryleev?
Ah! It’s better to hide oneself in simple
Than, with low passions of and
For the strict gaze of the fellow
To present oneself on their court, as
if for shame!
In short, everything needs a "Golden mean",
and your self-esteem is no exception.
11. So, you personally are sure that your
"product" is original, professional, talented
– in general, good. Then it is time for you to ask yourself: how to convince
other people, this huge and endless world? You may put the question straight:
how to conquer this world? Do not be shy of this question and ask it constantly,
at every step.
12. If you think the world is hostile to you, you
flatter yourself. The world just doesn't care about you. People are so busy
with themselves and their own affairs that they do not have time or desire to
carefully evaluate the affairs of others. And even when you think that you are
surrounded by enemies – in fact, you are surrounded primarily by the indifferent.
But this gives you a chance, because it is almost impossible to convince people
who have their own opinion, but it is possible to convince those whose opinion
has not yet been developed.
13. Do not look up to those who have no other
"product", except their own appearance and the ability to use it. The
flowering of appearance is usually very short-lived, and this determines the
specifics of show business: it makes possible to achieve (or completely lose
hope to achieve) popularity very quickly. Our "product" is the works
of art. As a rule, they bring less immediate benefits, but can "work"
for many centuries, if not forever. Remember this and do not be jealous of
bright "one-day butterflies".
14. If you managed to find like-minded people, it is good,
but remember that if you shut yourself in their
circle, then sooner or later you will have a situation from Krylov's
fable: "the Cuckoo praises the Cock because he praises the Cuckoo."
In other words, you may loose "feedback" and cease to develop as a
person. And not only friends are needed to establish this "feedback".
Enemies to struggle with, and indifferent people to convince, are also needed.
15. If you feel the strength to conquer the world
alone, without colleagues and associates – do it, but remember that you will
have no one to share your problems and difficulties, and your life will be very
hard. But you will not have to share the success with anyone. So it's up to
16. We do not know, if Boris
Pasternak said to Victor Ardov jokingly or seriously:
"You could have imposed yourself to the epoch to a much greater
extent." But there is something to think about. Apparently, it is really
necessary to "impose" oneself to the epoch. Speaking in a modern way,
it is necessary to engage in "PR".
17. "Imposing yourself to the epoch",
remember that your "creative product" is designed to live hundreds of
years, and maybe even eternally. Therefore, let your motto be the words of
Joseph Brodsky: "Do not fawn, fear, hurry".
19. Do not entertain the hope that if no one knows you
as a creator in life, then people will stumble upon your works after death and
glorify you as a "genius of all times". In theory, of course, there
is such a chance, but in practice it is negligible. And if you hear a well-known
example of posthumously recognized Van Gogh, then
carefully read his biography: he was a member of
20. Our information epoch
provides many opportunities to express yourself. These
are media, and the Internet, and public activities, and exhibitions, and concerts,
and advertising, and "glamour parties"... In short, the whole set of
"PR tools." And the main thing here – not to be
lazy and not to be shy. Over the years, you will begin to feel which of
these "tools" is more suitable for you and your creativity, which is
less, and which is completely unsuitable. But at the beginning of your way grab
for all that turns up. If you even make a mistake, it will not be too serious.
22. If you have
organizational skills – "impose yourself to the epoch" by yourself,
if not – do everything possible to find a manager.
23. Even if you are praised
by colleagues, critics, journalists and the public – let the words of Nicholas Dorizo warn you from the "dizziness of success":
is noisy and changeable,
Such is "her"
Only fame is
a reliable woman,
not a wife, but a widow.
However, in our creative
field is very difficult to acquire even popularity. Do not expect that the next
day after some successful PR-activity a crowd of fans will stand at your door and
ask for an autograph. To "impose oneself to the epoch" at least at
the level of popularity, many years, even decades of hard work are needed.
24. If you can not earn your
living by creativity – earn money besides. It is an individual question, what
will be your ability in this earning. Someone works as a boiler operator,
someone – as a General Manager, someone – as a housewife. Just remember that
creativity is primary for you, and everything else is secondary.
25. Making money "besides"
leaves for you no time for creativity? But do a simple calculation: any job –8
hours a day on average. Another hour or two for transport, 8
for sleep, 4 or 5 for all other matters, sport, leisure, etc. You still have
at least two hours daily. Plus weekends. With a certain self-discipline, this is enough.
26. Does it make sense to
emigrate? Hardly. Even if your "creative
product" is not directly related to your native language, you will still
lose many years until you learn the language of your new country, get used to
it and start to feel like a full-fledged person again. And the older you are at
the time of emigration, the shorter will be your new life "there". Will
you have "there" time to achieve what could achieve "here"?
Will the fate "there" be more favorable for your works? Not sure.
27. There is a famous
phrase, attributed to Korney Chukovsky:
"It is necessary to live long". If you chose such a long and thorny
path as creativity, then this phrase applies to you in the first place. So keep
a healthy lifestyle, do not drink, do not smoke, have a good family, spend more
time in the fresh air, do sports…
28. Do everything to save
your works of art for the posterity. Publish them at any opportunity, place
them on all possible sites in the Internet, send your books to libraries, draw your pictures in a durable technique... It will be insulting
to disappear from the memory of mankind "for technical reasons".
29. Are you desperate to achieve
your goals in art, do you want to quit? Well, this is up to
you, but remember that for a real artist it is as difficult to change
the profession as to change the soul, and you may face personal
30. Try to consider your creativity
as a duty to God, humanity, country, or posterity. This is good because if you
still have to suffer and endure adversity, so at least with a sense of duty.
31. If you believe in the
eternal value of art – do not hesitate to this faith. And let people call you
an idealist and a dreamer – remember that in fact such a belief is quite
pragmatic: if a person believes that his life is somehow connected with the
highest goals, it is easier for him to endure any adversity.
32. Don't be nervous of
failures, don't turn into a deranged psychopath, and don’t be afraid of old age
and death. No matter what will be your fate in life, in each case you will
leave the works of art to the posterity. That means that you have eternity
ahead of you.
© Sergey Zagraevsky