A while back, I wrote a post titled “Looking for better odds”. It’s sort of the guideline post of this blog. In the post, I write about 10 career/strategic rules that I attempt to work with in my professional life. This is an expansion on rule number 4.
In the arts, it’s very easy to see your heroes and idols creating interesting work, and then seeing yourself on the outside of that world. The “Us/Them” mentality is definitely detrimental- it creates walls between you and the thing you want, and once you start seeing the world that way, it becomes really difficult to move forward. I think the best way to take yourself out of this line of thinking is to try to learn directly from those you aspire to be like.
There’s no question that approaching an idol or artistic hero can be scary. But when so many of the success stories that I read begin with “well, I wrote so and so a letter” or, “I went up to so and so at the show he was directing and asked if I could work with him”, I think that all those people must be on to something. Most of the time, if you aspire to be like one of your idols, dedicate a lot of time, energy, and passion to emulating them, and demonstrate a strong work ethic, said idol will want to take you under their wing, at least to some extent.
I don’t think that every mentor/mentee relationship we strive to create will be live-changing. Yet, I do think that these relationships open a LOT of doors, and help young/emerging/not quite established artists both start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and help foster a sense of “yes, I do belong in this artistic world too”.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s cold, snowy, and awful outside (at least if you’re in NYC). What a perfect day for writing a nice letter to someone you admire!