Matthew Weiner

The myth of effortless genius

"Artists frequently hide the steps that lead to their masterpieces. They want their work and their career to be shrouded in the mystery that it all came out at once. It’s called hiding the brushstrokes, and those who do it are doing a disservice to people who admire their work and seek to emulate them. If you don’t get to see the notes, the rewrites, and the steps, it’s easy to look at a finished product and be under the illusion that it just came pouring out of someone’s head like that. People who are young, or still struggling, can get easily discouraged, because they can’t do it like they thought it was done. An artwork is a finished product, and it should be, but I always swore to myself that I would not hide my brushstrokes." —Matthew Weiner

My friend, playwright Christopher Bryant, sent me this article from MAD MEN creator, Matthew Weiner. I'd read it before, but it was great to re-visit because it really speaks to how I feel about the process of making art, and a conversation that Chris and I had recently about exactly this. 

Fuck the myth of effortless genius.

And that's what this blog, Miles from Elsewhere, is about for me. It's about revealing my brushstrokes, or showing my working out (as Austin Kleon puts it). Because being an artist may be wonderful and at times exciting, but it is rarely easy.

By the way, Chris has a blog of beautiful, honest creative non-fiction that inspires me on a regular basis. Read it.