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You Are an Artist is out in the world! Order here: And join our virtual book tour: You don't need to be creative or inspired to make art, but you may need the advice of artists, and perhaps a prompt! Show us your work on Instagram and Twitter with #youareanartist.

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Hi, so this is not our usual set, and this is not the video I had planned for today. This should have been a video filmed in one of the studios of the artists featured in my new book, "You Are An Artist," which hits virtual shelves and some actual mailboxes today. You can order it through your local book seller, or through the link below.

But since we had to cancel our filming trip, I thought I'd share with you instead some of the voices that have been echoing around in my head during this time when many of us are stuck at home, our lives upended or put on hold with a whole lot of anxiety to process.

They're the voices oF artists I've interviewed in the past while making this show, and many of who's assignments are included in the book. They passed along a lot of wisdom about creativity and how and why we make things that I think is extremely relevant at this moment in time.

There are a lot of good reasons to make art right now. Whether or not you usually make art or consider yourself capable of it. Maybe your mind, like mine, is having trouble focusing on things for longer than a few minutes, and doing something with your hands is a welcome way to be productive for a while.

Maybe you're understandably stressed out about your own situation and that of your community and the world. Making art can be a way of processing that worry, finding an outlet for it, or at least distracting you from it for a while. Maybe you're sick, traumatized, or grieving. Maybe you need to entertain yourself or your children for large portions of the day.

But no matter your situation, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: you don't have to be creative or inspired to make art. Seriously, I think creativity is hugely overrated. To make art all you need is to sit down and start doing it. Many artists are well suited to self isolation, spending long stretches in small rooms, straining toward unknown goals. They wake up feeling uninspired, scattered, and full of doubt, and they make art anyway. So there's a lot we can learn from artists to help us through this crisis.

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I'm gonna let some of the artists from my book speak from the past to address some of the excuses you might be making right now for why you can't or shouldn't make art.

Excuse number one: Ugh, I'm so bad at this
It can be really scary to confront a blank page, try out a new material, or start a new project of any kind. Artist and illustrator Christoph Niemann shared some thoughts about this when we talked to him in 2014

Niemann: This is probably like one of the most beautiful but also like most terrifying things about creating art. I think insecurity and doubt are so essential to this. I'm bored by art where I feel the artist went there and goes ugh (?), I want to see, I think that the struggle, the theme of art that interests me, of music, literature, painting, drawing, is doubt, struggle, it's trying to understand this world and trying to understand all this stuff that doesn't make sense. And then finding somebody who uses their tools to, like, show that struggle, that I then can relate to.

Sarah: I find this idea so freeing, that struggle and doubt are not something you have to overcome to make art, they're actually part of it. For me, this thought helps me accept my doubt, embrace it, and charge forth regardless.

Christoph is really good at outwardly and inventively struggling to understand things that don't make sense, like here's his New Yorker cover about coronavirus.

Excuse number 2: I don't have any art supplies
Another secret I'm gonna let you in on: you do not need art supplies to make art. When we talked to artist Sopheap Pich about his transition from art school in Chicago to eventually going back to his home country of Cambodia, he talked about his access to materials.

Pich: As a painter in school I needed some brush, I needed some color, I needed some stretcher, I needed some canvas, just like most people paint on, and those things I just go to (?)  and that's how I knew how to make - to start making this thing called art.

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But when I went to Cambodia there is no such thing as an art store that you can get canvas or stretchers or color from. So it's a big struggle to try to paint, so what end up happening, I just went to hardware stores and just get like powder pigment, house paint, glue, and I learned how to mix it together, you know? I learned with how to work with all those difficulties.

Sarah: So even if you think you don't have any supplies to make art, I guarantee you do.  Go through your recycling bin and pull out junk mail or old magazines to make into a paper weaving.  Re-use a shoebox and turn it into a constructed landscape.  Take your unwanted t-shirts and hand crochet them into a rug.  Those are all assignments in my book, by the way.

A lot of art doesn't require you to have any extra material at all, like Christoph's assignment, "Emotional Furniture" asks you to re-arrange furniture in your house to embody given emotions.  

Nina Katchadourian has you arranging book spines into short phrases to form a kind of portrait of a person.  The other cool thing about Sopheap not having access to the traditional painting materials is that because of that, he discovered materials he liked a lot more.  He started making sculptures out of (?~5:10) and bamboo, materials readily available in Cambodia, which have connected with audiences around the world.  

So maybe you don't have the things you think you need to make art, but by working with what you have, you discover a way of making that's even better.  

Excuse 3: I started something but I'm stuck.  If you're like me, you really enjoy starting a project but then stall out at some point.  I get bored and distracted or life gets in the way.  This happens to professional artists, too, and many of them have evolved ways of pushing past it.  We talked to Toyin Ojih Odutola about this.

Toyin: If I'm really stuck, if I'm really just like, no, I blast a lot of hip hop music and a lot of R&B, a lot of motown, or I put a film on that I really like.  Sometimes it's nice to just have some audio, 'cause it can get really crazy when you're alone and you start talking to yourself and you need another voice or another person.  

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