Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Artist & The Hierarchy

Even though it is winter break, I have still tried to stay somewhat productive. Between working on beats for Ricosuave and Ice the Villain, working on some upcoming events as an Artist Rep for RocNation, and preparing for after graduation, I have spent a lot of time on my laptop and on my phone. To take a break from all of that, I went through my Books to Read List & picked out The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

I found out about the book through elitaste, the blog of Daniel Weisman (Wale's manager). He made a post recommending it about a month ago. I finally got around to cracking it open and it is a great read for anybody interested in creating anything, musicians, authors, poets, entrepreneurs, etc. Pressfield breaks down how to defeat the enemy that is Resistance, first by defining it, second by combating it, third by moving beyond it. The War of Art has many effective messages and the output of information that you receive for the input that you give to this quick read makes it efficient as well.

The part that interested me the most is where Pressfield speaks on "The Artist and The Hierarchy." Pressfield says that any artist that defines himself or herself hierarchically is committing creative suicide. In a hierarchy, an individual will naturally do four things:
(1) compete against all others in the order, seeking to elevate his station by advancing against those above him, while defending his place against those beneath;
(2) evaluate his happiness/success/achievement by his rank within the hierarchy, feeling most satisfied when he is high and most miserable when he is low;
(3) act toward others based upon their rank in the hierarchy, to the exclusion of all other factors; and
(4) evaluate his every move solely by the effect it produces on others, including act for others, dress for others, speak for others, think for others, etc.
Pressfield says that the musician, author, poet, entrepreneur, etc. must do his or her work for its own sake. In a hierarchy, the artist faces outward, either up or down. The one place that the artist is not looking is the place that he or she must, within.

This is a paraphrasing of only one page out of the one-hundred and sixty-five pages in The War of Art. The book is full of great advice for any artist who is having trouble tapping into his or her creative energy.


  1. Hmm, sounds like I'll have to pick up this book. On the designing front, everything's flowing pretty nicely; writing, however, is another story...

  2. I will definitely be buying this book, because just what you've posted is so real. My shorts stories for classes have always been horrible but when I write for myself, they always come out really good. I like it.

  3. yo..that has definitely been on my books to read for a minute...