One of my favorite podcasts has nothing to do with marketing. In fact, it's a podcast about a topic I thought I'd never be interested in. It's about relationships.
The podcast is This Feels Terrible. It's hosted by Erin McGathy, a very funny improv person and all around person. And it's not a standard relationship podcast. Rather, she interviews comedians about their dating lives. Sometimes the episodes go off the rails but her choice of subject means there's rarely an episode not worth listening to.
One of the best episodes, in my opinion, is a break from form. She had artists Wayne White and Mimi Pond on episode 21 of the podcast. They're artists. And they're married.
You'd know Mimi from a little show called The Simpsons. She wrote the first episode ever aired. She's also a cartoonist and illustrator.
You'd know Wayne from a little show called Pee Wee's Playhouse. He designed most of the sets and puppet characters. You may have also seen them in the excellent documentary about Wayne called Beauty Is Embarrassing. Needless to say, they're an excellent, interesting couple. And their episode of This Feels Terrible is outstanding. I've kept it on my phone since the day it came out.
The stuff about their relationship and courtship is good. But you should listen to the podcast to hear about that stuff. I'm here to talk about the end of it.
Erin, who claims to be a bad interviewer but is completely the opposite, asked Wayne and Mimi what advice they'd give to artists. Wayne prefaces this advice by saying that he's doesn't want to serve as an example. But he's a pretty inspiring example if I've ever seen one.
Here's what he said:
Wane: "Perseverance. That's what I say every time someone asks me that. That's the number one trait you gotta have. Perseverance. Never give up. All that other stuff: vision, wit, talent, that'll take care of itself as long as you never give up. That's the #1 leading edge thing you gotta have. Because most people give up. Because most of art making is not very fun. It isn't. It's 75% hard work and boring work. Drudgery. But, the joy you get at the end of it makes up for all of that. They don't tell you the joy comes at the end. It's the digging that tunnel that's the hardest part. And that's where most people give up 'cause they think it just moment after moment of pure epiphany and magic. And the magic is not there most of the time. It's ditch digging. It's painful. And it's boring. And it's very, very hard to do. Perseverance. That's my simple, hard headed, plain, boring advice to any artist. Perseverance #1. [Mimi: Get up and draw every day.] And most people don't want to hear that. they want some kind of like 'Oh! Nurture the blahblahblah.' No."
Mimi: "Just get up and do it!"
Wayne (ctd): "Just put your nose to the grindstone and work through the pain."
It's not the newest advice. But it's advice that gets forgotten. People are always looking for a silver bullet. Or one "awesome quick tip to [fill in the blank]."
But those things don't exist. At least not in a way that makes people happy.
The silver bullet is hard work. And persistence. The only way to do something is to, as Mimi said, get up and do it. Or do it sitting down. But you have to try much harder than you expected to make anything good. To make anything. Because shortcuts and art do not go hand in hand.
Wayne said one other thing in the podcast that I enjoyed:
"I'm enamored with the idea of the heroic effort. You know? Biting off more than you chew then doing it. Painting yourself into a corner and escaping. Slaying the dragon. You know? Going out into the light and being the hero. That's part of my overly-romanticized view of the world."
It's heartening because things have worked out for him. He has a unique view on the world and through effort (and luck) he made things happen. I like that a lot.