Calling All Artists: Get to Work!

In this video, writer, martial arts teacher and zen priest Keith Martin-Smith interviews his brother, celebrated fine artist Mark T. Smith. The brothers talk about the challenges facing artists today and inquire into what’s shifting as Millenials take on the art world.

“For me,” says Smith, “art is about ennobling the public.” He bemoans the fact that, in today’s upper-echelon art world, he’s not seeing much that’s ennobling.

When his writer-brother asks him what advice he’d give to artists just starting out, Martin-Smith replies, “Get out of the fucking coffee shop and go to work … Get to the studio, start working.”

Now, that’s advice that applies to all of us, whatever our medium or message.

This interview is part of Martin-Smith’s current writing project, a novel-in-progress called Only Everything: A Novel (All About You) for which he’s seeking crowdfunding. Check out his Kickstarter page.

Martin-Smith sold his house to fund his last novel, A Heart Blown Open, which was promptly rejected by his agent. He realized that he’d been subconsciously holding back, “so I could tell myself, ‘Yeah, but I didn’t really try’ when rejection inevitably came.” Discouraged, but only temporarily deterred, he got back to work.

This time I held nothing back, and if the writing wasn’t good enough now, I could at least say that I could do no more, write no better.  This was me at my best, and there was no more to give.  I put everything into this book — time, money, sense of self, purpose for being, and every single ounce of talent I had.

At 38 years of age, I finally became a writer because I finally understood what that meant.

The book went on to be published and to win the Silver Medal Award from Nautilus Books for 2013.