In the Words of Warhol: Just Do It

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Editor's Note — This piece was originally written for Alternative Incite (Butter Lamb Press)

I’m not really sure whether I’m a fan of Andy Warhol’s art. I certainly do not dislike it, but I can’t say any of his work ever really moved me in any particular way. I suppose I am indifferent to it — or at best, ambivalent. That’s strange too given that I’m a huge fan of Warhol contemporary Roy Lichtenstein, but I guess that’s beside the point and I digress.

Still, no matter where I stand on Warhol’s art, he once said something in regard to creating art that moved me significantly. And as I get older, I find myself living increasingly by the words attributed to him.

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done,” Warhol said. “Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Today, in a world dominated by social media, we are bombarded constantly with quotes and memes and slogans. Most are simplistic drivel drenched in the gooey notion of self-love and quick-fix happiness. And given that we now exist in a world chock too full of social media “influencers” — whatever the fuck they are — Warhol, who died well before the advent of the Internet, was prescient in his famous prediction that: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

Anyway, for me, what sets Warhol’s quote apart from today’s familiar simple-minded meme fodder is that his three short sentences are both fully loaded and practical — containing numerous messages vital to the process of creating art under every imaginable circumstance.

Ignore your self-doubt.

Fuck everyone and fuck what they think.

Just get to work — now.

And, be prolific.

This message extends beyond art, too. But now that I am in my 50s, Warhol’s words have taken on increasing importance in my creative life in recent years. They have motivated me, and they have emboldened me. And, given that Warhol died suddenly at the young age of 58, his words also remind me that we are only here for a very short while, so do what you want while you can.

In the last handful of months, I had my photography included in an art gallery exhibit and started a photography website, completed my third book, created a publishing house to publish other writers, traveled to Kentucky to do a long-form journalism piece on the thoroughbred industry for a forthcoming book that will include more long-form pieces, and started a podcast with a lifelong friend of mine.

I’ll be the first to admit — I have no clue whether anything I’ve done is any good or whether it will succeed. But, in the words of Warhol, I’ll let others decide. And while they’re debating whether what I’ve done sucks or not, I’ll just keep my nose to the grindstone and keep hustling.

I don’t know a lot about much. And I know less about even more. But I do know this: if you think you want to do something, do it. If you think you want to create something, create it. Time you waste is time you do not get back. And art is challenging enough, no matter the medium. It is a challenge to take nothing and turn it into something. It is a challenge to have the courage to present what you create. It is a challenge to have what you create accepted.

But, like Warhol said, “Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

All that matters is rising to the challenge. Acknowledge your impulse and follow it. Ideas are nice. But ideas are largely meaningless until they are translated into form.