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Different Roads

Whenever I talk with friends about art, the issue of age as it relates to art inevitably comes up. Admittedly, I am guilty of bringing it up a fair number of times. Whenever I have asked a friend why they need to do so much before they hit a certain age, the answer is almost always due to comparing with whatever famous mid-20th century artist the friend looks up to.


The hard fact of it is, most artists don't hit their stride until midlife. Hell, it wasn't until the 20th century that youth became preferred in the art world. But, an unfortunate side effect of those great musicians, writers, and painters becoming famous early on for those born in Generation X and beyond is that there is this unfair pressure we put upon ourselves to be just as good as those we look up to right out of the gate. But, for those of you who are worried about getting older and maybe not producing as great work as you did early on or it being too late for you to start, here are a few examples of those who started later in life:


Gertrude Stein didn't get published until she was 35.


Claude Monet really didn't start painting in earnest until his 40s after the death of his wife.


Stan Lee didn't start drawing comics until he was 43.


Paul Cézanne didn't get his first solo show until he was 56.


Grandma Moses didn't start painting until her 70s and didn't get recognized until she was 80.


Charles Bukowski didn't write his first novel until he was 50.


Toni Morrison didn't get published until she was 39.


JRR Tolkien was 45 when The Hobbit finally saw print.


Leonard Cohen didn't release his first album until he was 33.


Lucille Ball didn't make it until she was almost 40.


Steve Carell started on The Daily Show when he was 37.


Debbie Harry was 31 when Blondie released their first album.


Mark Twain was 41 when he got his first book published.


James Murphy was 32 when LCD Soundsystem released it's first single and 35 when they released the first album.


Henry Miller was 44 when Tropic of Cancer was published and banned in the US for 27 years.



I could go on with more examples, but I think the point has more than been made. Bottom line, if you feel like you want to create, then just create! We all walk different roads. Follow your path. It will take you to wherever it is in life that you need to be.

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