How to Become a Successful Artist in Three Easy Steps

1.) Step One

Prior to entering the consciousness of our world, ensure that, when you breach, you do so at an angle so as to behold the full glory of the sun. For best results, stare directly into its warmth for a minimum of ten unblinking minutes as you whisper the secret of the universe to the back of your left thumb. 

If born at night, I’m so sorry. It’s over for you. 

2.) Step Two

At dusk on the eve of your seventh year of life, an opportunity will present itself disguised as a small horse. It will be wearing a party hat and it will say that it’s a unicorn, but do not be deceived or disappointed, friend. It is merely a horse with a party hat on. It will instruct you to mount it. Mount it. 

Once mounted, it will try to buck you off of its tiny back. Hold on tight lest your name be swallowed whole by the sands of time and your existence forgotten. Successful artists get remembered, so keep your eye on the prize, friend. There’s no time for reflection or self-care. This is preservation.

After approximately an hour of struggle, the tiny party horse will succumb to your dominance and tell you that you are to ride together west into the sunset until you reach a land called Transience. This is your first test. Do not ride west. You are meant to ride east—the horse is a trickster. You must now convince him to ride east. Don’t be a jerk about it, or anything, just, like, say, “Hey, let’s go east.” Depending on your delivery, there’s a fifty-fifty chance that the trickster horse will obey you.

If he does not obey, I’m so sorry. It’s over for you. 

If he does obey you, you are nearly halfway to ensuring that you’ll be a successful artist. Sure, you will be exhausted from breaking in your new trusty steed, your neck sore from the whiplash, your mind callused from the repetitive motion (this is not a metaphor) but you must carry on true east (any departure will result in certain death).

After half a days journey, you will find yourself standing in front of a wishing well. Approach it with caution. Touching the well will make Tom, the tiny horse, implode on impact. Touch it. Touch it quick. Do not spend your precious time grieving for Tom. Grieving will only mean his death was in vain. You must give your time to art, so carry on.

Your instinct may be to throw a penny in the wishing well. If you choose this route—literally what are you doing? You are polluting a water source. Instead, spin around four times clockwise, pause for three beats of your heart, and then reverse. Repeat this process three times while pondering your insignificance. You are but a speck of dust in a single reality of which there is an infinite number of alternatives. Tom is dead in all of them. Push past this unforgiving truth until you focus on yourself—you—the greedy speck of dust forging an important destiny. Fill your tiny brain with wonder. What is your biggest wish, dream, hope? Grab it from your mind’s eye and hold onto it before entering a downward dog. This process will not grant your wish, it is merely to get your heart rate up. You’re doing good things for your health. You are winning.

Now, it’s time for the blood-letting. A minimum of ten liters of seven-year-old type-A blood is needed to appease the gnome that lives inside the well. If you decide you have it in you (this is not a metaphor), grab the dagger (it will appear to your right) and bleed. Be careful because, as you do, the gnome in the well will try to lull you into a conversation on the importance of paperback novels and vinyl. Do not let him distract you from bleeding.

Once you’ve bled sufficiently for your art, take pride in the knowledge that you have completed the second of three tests, but there’s no time to celebrate. You’ll need to cauterize your wound. As for how? You are on your own. Best of luck.

If your wound won’t cauterize properly, I’m so sorry. It’s over for you.

If you manage to avoid an untimely death, you will then face your last test, The Great Stymieing, for which you are obliged to constantly move for no fewer than a score of fortnights while making no progress in any direction. This needs no further instruction.

If you manage to pass The Great Stymieing, congratulations! A raven will fly overhead signifying it’s now time to reflect. Complete a sun salutation before the crow disappears. As you do, reflect on your choices. Have you given enough? Why do you want this? Are humans owed happiness or do they have to earn it? Sacrifice is not just an Elton John song, after all, it is a lifestyle and you—you will need to sacrifice yourself to your art for the rest of your life. Art has no soul. No empathy. It is your soul. It is empathy. It is the crow. This is what you wanted.

If you finish your sun salutation and your eyes rise to an empty skyline filled with hollow ghosts clutching onto beautiful forsaken dreams, you did it right. You are home now.

Should your eyes rise to a witch who instructs you to build a lake by cupping your hands under a running faucet, I’m so sorry. This is your home now. You will have to attempt this task for the rest of your days.

3.) Step Three

Network and hope for the best.*

*This guide does not guarantee success. 


Though this post is entirely fake news and all material within is a fabrication of the writer’s imagination, Town Stages is a real-life event space in Tribeca with a mission to support under-valued and under-represented voices in the arts. Click here to learn more about the space or to book a tour.

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