I am an artist. It sounds so grandiose to say, but it’s true. I’m sort of the cliché type: emotional, sensitive, maybe a little difficult to get along with... skills not exactly ideal for the real world.
Luckily for me, I haven’t had to live too much in that “Real World.” Though still a struggling artist indeed, I have managed to make a living as one for several years now. My father always said you can be an artist if you’re willing to be poor, and I have definitely had PLENTY of those days – and still, it is always worth it.
As a child, I loved to draw. My mom claims that I could stand and paint for 45-minutes straight as a 15-month old baby. I’m not so sure, but she swears by it. At three, I can attest that I drew non-stop, going through reams of paper, filling them with my then fascination—sharks.
As words entered my world, I fell in love with reading and writing. I competed in poetry contests at nine years old, At eleven, I wrote a full- 169-page murder mystery novel, The Smell of Murder was the name, which still makes me giggle. Words led to more words, which ultimately led me to talking (too much, said my teachers), which changed my direction from the silent internal world of painting and writing, to the extroverted world of performing. And perform I did! I performed in musicals, in my mom’s “band,” and later alongside artists’ like Kanye West and Maceo Parker.
As I grew as a performer, I learned to emote, to ride and feed off the energy of a crowd. I realized that the real world I tried so hard to avoid, I actually needed, and that this so-called Real World didn’t reward generalists? (do you mean like a jack of all trades master at none?) like myself. I realized, with a sinking heart, that I may be good at many things, but I wasn’t great at one thing (or maybe the mere admittance of greatness guarantees mediocrity). Either way, I still yearned to be great – even if it was my own version of greatness, which usually meant just getting out of my own way.
Art has been my teacher. It has humbled me, taught me self-discipline, and forced me to take care of my body and my mind, as your problems in life are your problems in art. In pursuit of specializing, I have taught myself the basics in recording, engineering, mixing and mastering music, graphic design and video editing, HTML and web design, and even promotion and marketing.
Ironically, as the music industry collapsed, artists’ were forced to wear more and more hats, and my jack of all trade ways started to become an asset. Now, in full circle fashion, as art will often lead you, I find myself back to being the skinny scraggily-haired girl I once was. One that wants nothing more than to sit and draw, hoping the Real World gets me, but grateful for the refuge of my inner world, content to know that no matter the level of success, I will always be an artist and no one can take that from me.
Lara Karuna is a singer/songwriter living in Los Angeles. She has written with such heavy-weight producers as: DJ Khalil (Dr. Dre, P!nk Eminem), 1500 or Nothin’ (Cee lo, Jay- Z, Rihanna) and J.U.S.T.I.C.E league (Drake, Lil Wayne). She has performed with Kanye West, and opened for Ben Harper and De La Soul, and has toured through Asia and the Middle East. Currently she is the lead singer for the Classic Rock Burlesque Show CORSET. www.CorsetMusic.com
Little and Ashley Written by Annie Little
I’m Annie Little and I am a singer/songwriter, an actress and a model. I’d like to share a little bit about the musical part of my journey. I make up one half of the LA based duo Little and Ashley with my husband, Marcus Ashley. We are best known for our songs that were featured in a stop-motion Amazon Kindle TV campaign, in which I also starred. Little and Ashley has since released three EPs and we’re now working on a full-length album for 2012. It’s a dream come true to be pursuing music. But working this dream hasn’t always been easy for me. Far from it.
As much as I have always had a desire to express myself musically, I have also experienced an equal amount of fear about it—fear of not being good at it, of not being perfect. Sometimes the fear outweighed the desire and I’d even find myself giving up, feeling paralyzed. But deep down I knew I didn’t want to let it go. The desire was too strong. I had to find a way to stop judging and give myself permission to fail. I had to learn to stop expecting myself to be perfect.
A teacher once told me that I was much more interesting when I wasn’t trying to be perfect. It kind of blew my mind. I couldn’t quite fathom that my imperfections could be some of my most interesting parts.
I’ve been struggling with debilitating perfectionism in my art for most of my life—giving up at new things because I couldn’t be perfect at them – and I hadn’t even given myself the chance to learn them! I would expect myself to run before I could even stand. What a relief it was to let myself absorb this idea of interesting imperfections. Maybe if I allowed myself to be less than perfect and accepted it as part of the process, it would alleviate the frustration I experienced and allow me to truly grow as an artist.
Not only accepting, but embracing my imperfections is an ongoing journey. It’s a lot more fun to practice and learn when perfection isn’t the goal. It gives me the freedom to write a bad song, hit a wrong note, or try a new instrument. A few years ago I joined a women’s goal setting group called The New Hollywood where I met a network of fellow artists and realized I wasn’t alone in my fears or my desires. I’m looking forward to performing with Little and Ashley in The New Hollywood’s upcoming benefit for Free the Slaves, entitled Free to Express.
You can check out Little and Ashley’s music at www.LittleandAshley.com and become a fan at www.facebook.com/littleandashley.