Advice For Christian Artists: Just Do It

When Max McLean, the founder and artistic director of Fellowship for Performing Arts in New York City, was asked what it meant to be a Christian and an artist he responded with the most important principle that guides his work everyday:

"Make your faith the source of your art."

But what does that mean exactly? According to McLean, it means reflecting Christian truth, empathizing with other world views, and making your art with excellence.

Max McLean's list is excellent, much like his art. Christian truth should be the bedrock of all our creative endeavors. We should be loving our neighbor in all that we do. And Christians should be making the best art because we are inspired by the ultimate Creator.

However... if I may be so bold as to add one thing to McLean's list, it would be:

"Just do it."

That's not to say we should rush to get something done just so it's done. That wouldn't be excellent. And we shouldn't be so quick to create art that is lacking in the truth department. That would be unloving.

What I mean is that we should not be so paralyzed by fear that our art isn't perfect or complete or of the highest quality that we don't even get started.

In fact, I'd argue that the artistic process does not even begin until we start creating. Your art will not reach its highest stage until you put pen to paper, or brush to canvas, or pick to guitar.

I'll give you an example.

It wasn't long after J.R.R. Tolkien released The Hobbit that it became a worldwide phenomenon. It was getting rave reviews in Europe and in the United States. Fans all over the globe wanted more. His publishers wanted more. Everyone wanted to know more about hobbits and wizards and dwarves and orcs.

So, Tolkien went to work on a sequel. And through the simple act of getting started, his art took on a life of its own.

"As Tolkien began, Frodo’s name was still Bingo. He had not yet even conceived of characters like Aragorn and Faramir, or even why the Necromancer wanted the ring so badly. It was only as he got Bingo and his cousins to Rivendell that Tolkien came up with the origins of the Ring Quest, upgraded the Necromancer to Sauron, and realized this book was a vehicle for his dreams of writing a grand and heroic romantic epic."

Did you catch that? Tolkien wrote the first seven or eight chapters of what would become The Fellowship of the Ring as if it were The Hobbit 2. He put pen to paper and one of the greatest fantasy epics of all time grew from there.

But it never would have come into being if Tolkien thought he needed to map out everything before he started Chapter 1.

You might be a painter, writer, singer, sculptor, songwriter... whatever your art is, the most important thing is to get started.

Just do it.