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What It Is To Be An Artist

What it is to be an Artist

Part of an intimate letter series in modern form — a response to a Facebook message from an aspiring artist.


Hi n warmly respect ….
one of the history creater in flexibility.
l saw ur all the vdos of youtube. l saw ur all the blog of ur profile.really ur legend n amazing.
          as concern im truly inspired by you.I m also the flexibler break dancer.I also did lots of event here.I really want to establish in this field.I want to make carrier in this field so Im practicing from 5 years.would u like to suggest me as a legends how can I grow in this field. although my parents r not supporting im doing it.so will u mind yo guide me plz.?now im here in dubai working as a retailer bt im passionately doing it daily to make my passion as a profession.there is no bound of happiness if I get ur suggestion.
      thank you

Thank you so much for your message and kind words. I’m happy to know that I can be a source of direction for you.

When I was  just starting in Circus School in San Francisco around 1996 I read about a woman contortionist in Berlin who had been able to buy her own apartment from performing her art and the art I was training. Reading that and know that that could be possible inspired me that this career and profession could not only be satisfying to my soul but could also provide a “stability” … by mastering and solidifying what appears to be from the outside unstable.

As you know from all your training, and your training and performance looks very good, the appearances from outside eyes and minds and the realities of what is happening inside the body/soul of us are two very different things. In order to create the appearance of flexibility and suppleness we need to be solid as steel and resolute and connected in body, muscle and brain. Without this interior passion and fire, the exterior performance will be weak, insincere, and/or insecure. Your fire and passion are clear and raging. As was mine.

If one is lucky, epiphany moments happen and they can happen constantly. Mine occurred watching Cirque du Soleil’s “Saltimbanco” in 1994 in Tokyo, when my academic track took a turn start circus and theater training for the next four years–first in London then in San Francisco. While I had the emotional support of my family, I funded and supported all my training myself from waiting tables in London to cleaning toilets and floors at the Circus School and selling handbags at Coach in San Francisco (where speaking Japanese helped me win many sales contests). Gradually aerial and contortion performing work came started, the other jobs could stop, and I could focus all my energies into fueling the passion and profession which I hoped could result in my own “Berlin Apartment.”

As you know from training and training well, there is nothing fast or immediate about any of this process–results take countless hours and careers can take years. The important thing is to maintain the passion and maintain an attitude of positivity and faith that you are a person acting, creating, living and forging a life true to yourself which in turn inspires others to do the same.

Take every opportunity to perform, particularly for causes or with other artists you respect. Try not to sell yourself short when a paying job or engagement comes along and alternatively Sell Yourself Tall. There are shows for making money and there are shows to show your love and your light and when you can balance those two, the artists’ soul smiles brightly.

One of the hardest things about this path is to Not Get Ahead of Ourselves. We see so much on the internet of our “friends” smiling and happy, succeeding in every way around the world. Remember we’re only seeing the tip of their iceberg and there is a massive amount submerged and unrevealed. Sometimes the moon is full, sometimes its empty, but it’s always The Moon and only changes from external perspective. Simply be Your Own Moon, try not to cast shadows on yourself and know that the Whys of Today many years from now may make themselves clear…as the Necessities of Yesterday…to be where you are. As Future You. Happy You. Content You.

Stay strong inside and out, keep the seed of a smile and a spark in your eye through the day and night, and extinguish negative thoughts with the sentence “Something Wonderful is Going to Happen Today.” You’ll be surprised how many things do.

Your friend beyond Facebook,


Jonathan Nosan
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