book signing

Patti Smith and the art of work

Last night, I saw Patti Smith speak about her new book, M Train. The memoir delves more into her life, memories and the people she admires, and it shed more light into the person that she is.

I’ve been a fan of hers for a few years. Horses has been a part of my music collection for a long time but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually saw her perform live. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to have seen her perform at a few venues in the city, and have added her book, The Coral Sea, to my collection.

When her book Just Kids came out, I devoured every word and fell in love with the world she lived in. I have since reread it without rose-tinted glasses, and now I admire her writing style and appreciate the hard work and time she put into her craft as an artist early in her career.

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Thanking her for her work and words.

She participated in a Q&A panel and inevitably, a young artist asked her for advice on how to survive as an artist today. Her words to young artists resonate with me a lot.

She has a strong work ethic, and despite the fact that artists of our generation have more options than what her generation had, we need to keep working and make good work that resonate with what we want to say. It’s less about “making it” and more about doing something that speaks to us.

I want to make work that I like and the reward is that others might feel the same way. Life is hard. Being an artist is hard. But if what you have to say rings loud and true, then it’s all worth it. But Smith puts it better and more eloquently than me:

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned about doing good work. Protect your work and if you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency. Life is like a roller coaster ride, it is never going to be perfect. It is going to have perfect moments and rough spots, but it’s all worth it.”