“Don’t think about making art. Just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” Those words of artist Andy Warhol might well be some of the best advice given to parents, managers, athletes, coaches, students, and many others, even artists.
Within that short snippet of advice are two concepts with which many of us struggle. The first is that we can spend so much time thinking about doing something, we never get around to actually doing it. If you aren’t one of those people, you may well know someone who is. These are the extreme planners, the perfectionists. Everything is thought about, internally debated, reviewed, maybe even begun but never gotten very far until the re-evaluation, re-review, and amended planning begins. The second reality that many people have a hard time grasping is that others will decide if they like or don’t like what you’ve done and there is nothing you can do about it. Most of us do not like the idea of being judged without defending our positions, yet this is the truth of much of our existence. Whatever we do, whether that is play ball, act, sing, run a department at work, raise a family, or even paint, is evaluated. Only some times are there objective criteria. Most often, the decision if our work is good or bad, whether the observer likes or dislikes what we’ve done, is based on their prejudices of what they believe is good or bad, likable or not.
Warhol’s advice that so succinctly deals with these two concepts may help to explain why there are many more not famous people, even of the 15 minute variety, than people who are accomplished and sought out for aid and advice. Too many people hold themselves back from their fullest because they delay action until all the conditions are perfect. An equally too many people never reach their fullest potential because they are concerned with how others will receive them or their work. Warhol addresses the first with, “Don’t think…Just get it done,” and the second when he says, “Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad.” They are going to judge you no matter how perfect you think, or even know you’ve been in your execution. Don’t fret; just do.
There is an even more compelling reason to consider this Warhol quote. The last line. “While they are deciding, make even more art.” Once you have convinced yourself of your worth and of your abilities, and have decided that your opinion is the one that matters most to you, you free yourself from the insecurities that had paralyzed many into complete inaction, and you can continue to work, to produce, to improve.
Don’t think, just do. Don’t agonize over others’ opinions, yours is what matters. Then do some more. But what if you get it wrong? Warhol had an answer for that also. "When you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something." Pretty good advice from one who was pretty good at expressing himself.