It’s become a tradition at Brelby to spend the month of November reflecting on our artform and how it impacts us through our annual Blogathon. This year, in honor of our 10th Season, our Blogathon participants will be sharing lists of 10 things that have impacted them, whether they be lessons or memories…or are looking ahead towards future goals.
Today’s blogger, Michael Moramarco, is a the Vice President of the Brelby Foundation. He’s engaging to watch onstage (you may have seen him in our productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Quest for Claus, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream), but he’s also an absolute delight to engage with in conversation. He’s a natural leader, and he is generous enough to gift his time to helping raise awareness about Brelby’s mission.
Below, Michael shares 10 lessons that he’s learned from being an artist.
10 Lessons I’ve learned from being an artist
I’ve been working with Brelby Theatre Company since playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors in the summer of 2014. Most recently I have been serving as the Brelby Foundation Vice President. However, I’ve been an artist for much longer. And while they may not be universal, these are certainly 10 lessons that I have learned and that have helped me to flourish as an artist:
- I am an artist. I grew up with a very narrow frame of mind surrounding what was and was not “art”. It typically centered on fine art – painting, sculpting, watercolor, etc. I had zero skill or creativity in this area. And my friends that did were all way cooler than me. So, there was no way I could ever consider myself an artist when they were producing such incredible work and all I ever did was act sometimes. It honestly wasn’t until after college, where I minored in theatre, that I finally began to think of myself as an artist. And I found that I wasn’t the only person in the theatre world who felt this way about their craft. I may not ever hold a paintbrush or model with clay, but I am an artist. Most people are. You probably are too, so start thinking of yourself that way and you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and anxiety.
- There is always a solution. To any problem. Any. Now, that solution might not be the “best” one or the “right” one, or even a good one, but there is a solution. Being an artist taught me creative problem solving skills. It started with scenic design issues – we can’t put a working sink in this kitchen sct, so how do we get water for the scene to make sense? We don’t have any men auditioning, so how do we make this work with the talented women who are here? If you think about your problems like you’re trying to put on a show, and everything depends on your creativity and compromise skills, you’ll find a way.
- Listen more than you speak. As a flamboyant extrovert I used to do a lot or speaking – even when I really should have shut up. When we are actively listening to the artists and the world around us, we make each other’s world and art even better.
- Along with that – there is always more to learn. And when you listen you learn a lot more than when you’re speaking. There is always another perspective and voice that has something meaningful to contribute to our discourse, so make sure you’re not talking over it.
- While a lot of art is derived from real pain, the creative process is healing and good for your whole body. When your whole body is open to the creative process, and your mind, body and spirit are working towards producing something meaningful to you, it creates a beautiful synergy within that can only lift you up higher than before.
- Diversity is key. As I said before, there are always different perspectives. If we keep reading the same type of work, or casting the same people, or listening to the same music, it is very difficult to grow. Growth comes from tension, from conflict, from stretching your knowledge. We can only do this when we engage with new and diverse art and artists.
- Not all artists are bleeding heart liberals. I had to learn this one the hard way a few different times in college. Along with the diversity means also diversity of political views. And I am definitely not advocating that we should lend any time or credence to hateful beliefs, that is harmful and counterproductive, but many artists out there are conservative, and they should be just as welcome and included. As I have learned, their stories and perspective can absolutely elevate our collective work.
- While we often feel powerless and marginalized in society, throughout history, artists have held immense power. Art shapes the world and how we live in it just as much as politics and science (which is certainly art in its own way). If tomorrow there were no more art or artists it would be a dismal place to dwell in – Luke Gomez wrote something provocative about that.
- Your artistic talents will be appreciated and needed in the most random of circumstances, and everyone will be glad you’re there. Whether the person scheduled to sing the national anthem canceled last minute and they need someone now to sing, or the CEO makes an obscure Hamilton reference and you’re the only one who got it. The need for artist is ever present.
- Confidence. Being an artist has instilled immense confidence in me throughout my life. The ability to put yourself out there for the world, whether you’re performing someone else’s work or showcasing your own, is amazing. It takes a lot of vulnerability to offer up your art. You open yourself up to strong criticism each and every time. But each time it gets a little easier, and the negative voices get a little quieter.
So go forth and create, my dear artist friends! The potential for greatness is within each and every one of us.