How to Create Art That Doesn’t Matter

Posted on

#ArtisticParadox #UnconventionalCreation #ArtWithoutBounds #MeaninglessMasterpieces #SocietyReflections #JidduWisdom

How to Create Art that Doesn't Matter

It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

— Jiddu Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living, Series 3

Art matters… right? This question can bring up mixed feelings for many artists. On the one hand, every artist and art lover carries an unshakeable, if unspoken, knowledge that art does matter, that it has inestimable value, and that the creation of art carries out a life-giving purpose in our world.

On the other hand, our society tells us at nearly every turn that the arts don’t really matter. Parents tell aspiring artists to go into a more financially stable career. Schools, facing budget cuts, axe the arts first. Politicians and economists tell us that what really moves the world are money, fame, technology, and power – areas of concern in which art doesn’t really seem to have a place. 

The ugly truth is that, despite the transcendent potential for the arts we feel in our hearts, and despite the knowledge we, as artists and art lovers carry about the true purpose of the arts, the way we now create, perform, practice, teach, and make a living as artists often reinforces the impotence and irrelevance of the arts.

Despite our best efforts to nonetheless follow the guidance of our creative souls, many artists experience a life of needless effort, disconnection, meaninglessness, pain, and struggle. It can be felt in the daily grind of artistic careers that regard our creative spirit as a resource to be extracted rather than a gift to be honored. It can be felt in the anxiety that comes from trying to put on a perfect technical performance rather than one that features the authentic channeling of our soul. It can be felt in the chronic injuries that come from regarding our body as a wayward machine to be corrected through constant vigilance and effort. It can also be felt in the perverse feelings artists carry towards money; either in hungrily regarding our art as a commodity and our audiences as primarily a source of income, or in the disdain for money and selling that prevents us from sustaining ourselves financially.

As a result of this sort of dispiriting approach to the arts, our art sometimes falls flat, feels inauthentic, or at the very least fails to have its full transformative potential. The result for our audiences is the consumption of our art fails to satisfy their longings for inspiration, healing, and connection. These realities are often a source of anxiety and depression for artists, leading us to wonder why we got into the arts in the first place.

If we continue to create in this way, the result will be creative death. Our bodies will break down with chronic injuries, our creativity will dry up, our souls will throb with anxiety and self-doubt, and we will continue to struggle with finding satisfying and sustainable opportunities to share our artistic gifts. While our creations may carry a certain power through their technical prowess, popular appeal, or monetary benefit, deep down we will know that our artistic life contradicts everything we love and value about the arts.

These kinds of experiences are both the cause, and further result of, our society’s view of the frivolity and impotence of the arts. Even though these experiences contradict our heart’s knowledge, they carry real cultural weight because, in a strange way, they point to something true: the arts approached from a dispiriting place become devoid of everything that makes them meaningful and enlivening. Art created in agreement with the story of a lifeless universe is likewise lifeless. It is art without its transformative potential – its Soulforce – and without Soulforce, what’s the point?

The arts approached from a dispiriting place become devoid of everything that makes them meaningful and enlivening.

Of course, the answer is not just to prevent creative death, but to foster creative flourishing. Doing so will have many benefits. Our lives as artists will be full of flow, meaning, and pleasure; our resultant art will be full of life and transformative potential; and our audiences will be endlessly grateful for our creations. In other words, our lives and our art will be in alignment with what our hearts have known and felt all along. Best of all, simply by coming more alive in ourselves and our art, we will be fulfilling our most vital societal role: to be the vanguard of culture, leading humanity out of our current turmoil into a new and more harmonious way of being. Art thus created answers the question, “Does my art really matter?” with a resounding “YES!” that we will feel in our bones.


Going Deeper. Here’s something you can do today to reconnect with the sense that your art matters. Spend a few moments in a quiet place and consider the ways you create, practice, perform, teach, and make a living in the arts. What aspects of your artistic life feel most fulfilling? What aspects feel most draining? See if you can listen into the reasons why some things feel either fulfilling or draining. What’s the knowledge hidden underneath these feelings? What’s true about who you are or about the arts in general that is being expressed through these feelings? Write this truth down in a place where you’ll see it regularly and allow it more space in your daily activities. Then, see how this informs or changes your approach to your artistic activities.

For more support in this process, download your copy of the Soulforce Arts Starter Kit, a free mini-course designed to help you reconnect with your Soulforce, the transformative energy essential to great art that matters. You can access the Starter Kit by signing up for the Soulforce Arts Institute’s email newsletter.

The above post is adapted from Chapter 1 “Does Your Art Really Matter?” of my book, “Soulforce Arts: The vital role of musicians & artists in creating a more beautiful world,” coming out in mid-2024.

Joseph Arnold
Violinist, Alexander Technique teacher, and Director of the Soulforce Arts Institute

Scroll to Top