DAY 57- HOW TO BE AN ARTIST / by Debra Matlock

Lesson 11: Listen to the Crazy Voices in Your Head

I have my own sort of School of Athens in my head. A team of rivals, friends, famous people, influences dead and alive. They’re all looking over my shoulder as I work; none of them are mean. All make observations, recommendations, etc. I use music a lot. I think, Okay, let’s begin this piece with a real pow! Like Beethoven. Or the Barbara Kruger in my head says, Make this sentence short, punchy, declarative, aggressive. Led Zeppelin chimes in with, Try a hairy experiment here; let it all show. All the Sienese paintings I’ve ever seen beg me, Make it beautiful. D. H. Lawrence is pounding on the table, Alexander Pope is making me get a grip, Wallace Stevens listens to my language and recommends words, Whitman pushes me on, my inner Melville gets grandiose, and Proust drives me to make longer and longer sentences till they almost break, and my editor cuts these into eighths or edits them down to one. (Writers need editors. No exceptions.) These voices will always be there for when things get tough.

Maira Kalman

Lynda Barry

Edie Sedgwick

Jean Michel Basquiat

Keith Haring

Eugene Delacroix

Federico Fellini

Giulietta Masina

Marilyn Monroe

Nina Simone

Barbara Kruger

Jenny Holzer


John Cheever

Raymond Chandler

James Ellroy

Helena Bonham-Carter

Phoebe Waller-Bridge