How to Be Authentic

I don’t really care whether people are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ artists or not– I only care whether they are authentic or in-authentic.

1. Who are you?

First step to becoming authentic:

Know there is only one of you.

To know that you gotta do what you were born to do.

To know, you must put faith in yourself. You must not glance over your shoulder and care what others think of you.

No — you must know yourself, your own personal motives– and to judge yourself according to your own scale.

2. Never compromise.

Authenticity is the opposite of compromise.

Compromise: trying to please others (instead of pleasing yourself).

Many of us compromise out of fear. Fear of punishment. Fear of getting yelled at. Fear of death, or becoming homeless, or losing our jobs.

For me, I don’t think working a job you don’t like is necessarily ‘compromise.’ We all gotta make a living in one way or another. But once you have a ‘basic’ income to cover your rent, food, coffee, and essentials– any more income (doing things you don’t want to do) is compromise.

3. Be like bamboo.

In modern society we are told to be flexible. I generally think being flexible is a good thing. Yet, we must be like bamboo– flexible at the ends, but our core needs to be strong.

We all need something to stand for. For our artistic vision. For our personal code of ethics and morals. We need to be like a good tree– strong roots and trunk, but flexible leaves and branches.

4. Judge your own authenticity

Why be authentic?

For myself, authenticity is important because whenever you compromise your ideals, you die a little bit inside. And the more you die inside, the less confident you are. And the less confident you are, the less prolific and productive you will be as an artist.

To me, I think a great artist produces a lot of art. We praise a vine if it produces a lot of juicy, golden grapes. We likewise praise an artist if he is able to produce a lot of artistic children– his pictures, his words, his thoughts, or his ideas.

For myself on a personal basis– I only judge myself as ‘authentic’ according to my own scale. If I can look at myself in the mirror, and smile at my reflection, I am authentic. If I do anything or publish anything that causes me to cringe and feel sick in my stomach — I am being inauthentic.

5. Never let anyone tell you whether you are ‘authentic’ or not.

The problem is we often look at others, and are worried what others think of us– instead of what we think of ourselves.

Never never never ask someone:

“Do you think I am authentic?”

That question itself is inauthentic. Because what you are really asking someone is…

“Please tell me that I am being authentic– because I have no faith and self-confidence in myself.”

We all need friends, guides, and mentors. Yet, if we do not have confidence in ourselves — we are like a captain of a ship who doesn’t know how to operate his own compass. We need to know what our own personal ‘true north’ is.

6. Ain’t nobody perfect– that is what makes you beautiful.

Our pictures are like us. Or like our children — imperfect, and reflections of ourselves.

Our pictures should show our own idiosyncrasies.

I admire photographers when I can see their soul in their pictures. When I can see their emotions. When I can see their unique perspective.

Can you see your own soul in your own pictures? Do you see your optimism? Do you see your darkness? Do you see your own joy in your own pictures?

You want your pictures to be like a clear pond of water– clearly showing your own reflection.

Never be ashamed of your own refection.


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