Let’s talk my love for Berlin. It’s no wonder in a city renowned for its creativity, alternative culture and freedom of expression, I felt right at home. Prolific in its street art as a public canvas for artists to encourage social dialogue and reflection. In my wanderings around Berlin, I began to ponder the valuable lessons this art form can teach us, relevant to all aspects of life.
1. Be fearless
The nature of graffiti is notoriously dangerous, risky, and exhilarating all at once. Street artists risk their safety each time they go out and create their works, whether illegally or not. They put themselves in perilous situations: climbing buildings, riding on top of trains, and breaking into abandoned buildings. Many venture out in masks in the dark of night, letting spray paint toxins poison their lungs. They have to think fast under pressure and be quick on their feet.The best artists aren’t known for their technique, but for their passion. By putting their heart, soul, sweat and blood into creating art. A culmination of their courage, their fantasies, their success and their disappointments. Here’s the thing about passion: You have to be willing to risk it all at the chance for greatness. From quitting a dead end job for the possibility of meaning, to selling all of your possessions to gallivant the globe; taking risks pushes us beyond our comfort zone to experience all that life has to offer.
2. Determine to be a giver
Street artists give back to the community without expecting anything in return. Many choose to remain anonymous (ie. Banksy) and get no praise or recognition for selflessly sharing their art with the world. Yet they continue to create for the people.One could argue that a completely selfless act doesn’t exist; that by helping another, we get a good feeling in return. Regardless, we should have a true sense of respect for the artists putting themselves out there for the benefit of the greater good.
3. Question everything
Is street art inherently bad if its purpose it to enhance a city? Is their a difference between street art and graffiti? Is one version considered art and another vandalism? Do the artists ever come from mal intentions? Is it moral for an artist to paint on top of another’s work? Creativity knows no bounds. Challenge the norm. Color outside the lines. Embrace the imperfections. Do something different. No one likes a carbon copy, after all.
4. It’s all about perspective
Art is incredibly subjective and up for interpretation on the meaning behind the artists intentions. What one person sees as an ugly act of vandalism, another may see as a vibrant masterpiece.Our preconceptions can alter the way we perceive the world. We all too often approach people and situations, quick to judge from a surface level interaction. This is a major disservice to both yourself and the other party. Take time to dig deeper and ask the tough questions.
5. Avoid the comparison trap
Odds are, you are not Banksy. So chances are, you will never be GOAT (Greatest of all time). But don’t let that get you down. There’s enough space out there for all of us to succeed. There will always be someone who is wealthier, more talented or more successful than you are. Each one of us has our own unique essence and the ability to offer the world a unique blend of skills, gifts and talent. Tap into that potential and quit worrying about what the guy next do you is doing.
6. Learn to embrace failure
Street artists are familiar with the feeling of frustration when a brush stroke goes wrong, the feeling of dread after being caught, and the feeling of disappointment when their work is covered. Obstacles and setbacks give an opportunity to innovate towards bigger and better things.
What if everything goes terribly wrong? But then again, what if everything goes terribly right? Failure is both the best and worst thing that can happen to you. When you don’t fail, you succeed. When you do fail, it is experience and a lesson learned.
7. Time is of the essence
Street artists don’t have the luxury of time with heir art as other creatives do. They must be lightning quick and bolt once their work is completed. Time is more valuable money to them.Furthermore, nothing is permanent. Their masterpiece can immediately be covered or removed. The fleeting nature of street art is devastating and thrilling at the same time.
Do you agree with the wisdom street art can offer us? Or do you think it’s a bit of a stretch?