I am not a real actor. I am not a real playwright. I am not a real artist.
I am not even a real adult.
Clearly I’m not qualified to really give my opinions here.
I’m a 17-year-old high school student. So it is true that I’m not an adult, but that other stuff is just that impostor syndrome that is familiar to us all.
I think the feeling of not being a valid artist came relatively recently to me, though I don’t quite know why. I do know that it wasn’t always there. From pretty much as early as I can remember I did paraphrased Shakespeare plays on the front lawn and violin concerts for the stuffed animals, and as far as I was concerned I was a real actor and musician.
I find it really interesting that this feeling of not being qualified enough to consider yourself a real artist seems so much more prevalent in the arts communities than anywhere else, because being an artist is one of the most accessible titles ever! If a kid wants to be an astronaut they can’t just jump in a spaceship and be an astronaut. If they want to be a doctor they can’t just grab a stethoscope and be a doctor. They can pretend, but the fact is you need a whole lot of training before you can actually be a real one. This is something that I think is so amazing and special about art! Anyone can paint a picture and they are a painter. They can write a story and they are a writer. They can put on a show and they are an actor. They aren’t just pretending. They are real artists!
It’s that simple: to be an artist you just have to make art. Really.
The secret is that all artists are real artists. You don’t have to be a professional to own that word. Being a really good artist however, is not the same. That doesn’t just happen. But I’m pretty sure it also doesn’t happen by waiting for the one amazing idea that is going to launch a career.
My super cool violin teacher told me about a pottery class that was divided into two groups: one was given the task of creating as many vases as they could throughout the semester, and the other was to work the whole time on creating one perfect vase. And surprise! at the end of the class it was the first groups that were the better potters. The idea of ‘quality over quantity’ is so commonly taught and applied to nearly everything, and though it is definitely a valid approach to some extent and in some circumstances, it seems to me that more often than not, in the arts mindful quantity leads to quality.
You can’t wait to be a “real” anything or you won’t get there. You can’t wait for a golden nugget of an idea, but you can’t expect one either. Here is an important message I learned this summer when I was part of Soulpepper’s City Youth Academy: everything is shit the first time around. I mean maybe sometimes some genius’s first draft is golden, but that’s beside the point. The point is you just have to believe in the shit you created or dreamed up. Develop the shit, or else you never even give it the chance to become anything. Sometimes the shit will stay shit, true, and you move on. But among the piles of shit and trash ideas is a golden nugget, and you never know which ones have that kind of potential until go exploring.
Written by: Veda Hingert-McDonald
Photo Credit: Veda Hingert-McDonald
Veda is a teenage violinist and theatre artist obsessed with pirates, accents, string quartets, and hugs. She was a member of the 2016 Soulpepper City Youth Academy and is looking forward to creating a show for the Paprika Festival.