Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy



Sunday, April 16, 2017

10 Rules for Success as an Artist

The following is a list of guiding principles that have kept me continually inspired, and have given me the courage and tenacity to stay focused over the years. And for the record, I hardly consider myself a success. I and my work will always be a work in progress--this is the path I have chosen. Now all of these rules are not for everybody, but I'm sure there's a little something in here for everyone. 

1. Learn to see yourself as a business of which you are the CEO.
When we see ourselves as part of a business, instead of as a business, we spend all of our time competing as metaphorical employees, rather than claiming our own artistic turf as CEOs. Originality is the surest way to hover above our competitors. 

2. Do one thing uniquely well.
In order to stand out from the crowd, your artistic vision should be narrowly focused. Being jacks-of-all-trades certainly increases our work opportunities, but these are not the kinds of opportunities that lead to us becoming stand alone entities.

3. Aim for an artistic monopoly.
We have our whole lives to branch out. The first thing we should focus on is establishing ourselves as experts in a particular area, and then branch out. Whatever we do, we have to first own it, and then build on that foundation. Take Google and Amazon for example.

4. Have a plan, but be willing to revise it.
Planning and being creative are not linear processes. You have to start with a plan, but realize that it’s just the first draft. Like any book, it will never be great without serious editing and revise. And even then, it's hit or miss.

5. We must be narcissistic, yet humble.
Narcissism gives us the courage and confidence to go against the grain of popular opinions. Humility enables us to hear the opinions that really matter.

6. Embrace failure.
Failure is absolutely necessary for growth. A willingness to fail keeps us adventurous and unafraid to try new things. Many failures are just unexpected outcomes. Sometimes the unexpected is even better than the expected.

7. Be selfish as an artist, and altruistic with what you create.
As artists, we must be selfish. Otherwise, we spend all of our efforts trying to satisfy others, rather than pursuing that which is inspiring us. Then of course, once we bring that which is inspiring us to fruition, then my advice is to give, give, give; and share, share, share.

8. Believe that anything is possible, but then know your limitations.
As artists, we cannot be afraid to dream. The world needs to be our canvass. However, knowing our limitations keeps us from pursuing paths that will yield few positive outcomes.

9. Be willing to lose those who are close to you.
Not everyone in our inner circle is going to follow us. When we are pursuing change and people who are close to us are not, we might have to leave them behind. And in some instances, they eventually come around.

10. Treat your art and career like a flower: plant the seeds in healthy soil, nurture them over time, and wait patiently for them to bloom.
Anything of substance, especially the new and underexplored, is going to take time. So as long as your vision is unwavering, and your foundation is solid, all you have to do is to keep watering it, and watch it grow.



Please check out my book Life Lessons from the Horn and my new CD, Sopranoville.

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