Creative advice from those who have 'made it'

October 2, 2017

Twenty Something Humans has been lucky enough to soak up some pearls of wisdom from some pretty fucking big deal humans over our lifetime. From writers, to artists, musicians and general creative makers; we've been inspired by many who have already 'made it' whilst we flail, flop and splutter our way through our creative pursuits.


Now we bring you a compilation of the most inspirational and practical advice from those who have come before us. Hopefully if we follow closely enough, we too can land a record deal with Ed Sheeran.





What advice would you offer to people in their 20s who are wanting to pursue a creative career but aren’t quite sure how to take that first leap of faith?



Josh Pyke 


 It’s a tough question but I think you really have to trust your instincts. The bottom line is that every person that wants to do something creatively thinks that they are good enough to do it and the reality is that not everyone is good enough.


It’s a harsh reality but we see it all the time. You know, a mate will pick up a guitar around the fire and his friends will say, “You’re amazing, you should try and do some gigs,” and then you can spend a lot of time pursuing this type of career and not really getting anywhere. My advice is quite harsh, but I do stand by it, if you’re absolutely compelled to do it and you feel like your soul is going to be sick and that you’ll be a sick person, mentally, if you don’t pursue whatever creative avenue that you want to, then you just have to throw your hat in the ring. You take the hard path and try to make it happen. I don’t have specific advice on how to make that happen because that’s different for every person. You need to apply for grants, get a shitty job, spend time honing your craft because if you do that, all the other people that aren’t as compelled as you are will eventually drop off and you will emerge as the leader. If you’re just really passionate about it and you love doing it but you could equally do something else, I would say relegate it to being a really passionate hobby and you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache.


There are some people that need to be artists and there are some people that just want to be artists. You have to want to do it from the second that you wake up in the morning.


The bottom line for me was that while I was trying to be an artist, all of my mates were getting degrees and having well paid jobs. I was a solid 10 years behind everyone else before I started being able to earn a living as a musician. Thankfully it went well and I was able to provide for my family and create a home but I often think about how bloody lucky I am. It’s why most artists who get a break will work three times as hard as anyone else because they’ve been standing on the edge for so long.


Read our full Q&A with Josh here.




Jamie Lawson


You have to be 100% behind it, dipping your toe in is never going to work and you have to absolutely
love it. If you don’t then it won’t make you happy if it doesn’t go well. You have to want to do it even
if it means you won’t make much money. I go by this quote from Bob Dylan - “A man is a success if
he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”


Read our full Q&A with Jamie here.





Tina Arena



Take chances, discover not only what you are good at, but what makes you happy. Understand that you need a good team around you and collaborate with them. Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons, because you like the craft not for the fame.


Read our full Q&A with Tina Arena here.














Just try, go for it, don’t stop. It’s all about hard work, keep on pushing and people will notice your hard work, even if you don’t become hugely ‘successful,’ it won’t go unnoticed. Fame isn’t the only important thing, just keep doing it.


Read our full Q&A with MAYA here.






Michelle Law


I’m a big believer in having small, tangible goals that work to serve an ultimate, long-term goal. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by your ideas and having achievable goals means that you can keep a record of the real progress you’re making.


How do you break through a creative slump/writers block?


I like to step away from the work for a while. Go outside for a walk, play with your dog, exercise, go shopping, whatever gets you out of your head and isn’t related to your profession. You get to a point where you’re thinking about your work so obsessively that sometimes the best remedy is a rest.


Read our full Q&A with Michelle here.





Lorelei Vashti



I hate giving advice because I don’t know anything, but I guess I'd say: have fun with the time you have now! Because you won’t always have it. I don’t mean to suggest twenty-somethings have all this amazing free time or anything (most are probably working full-time jobs and trying to pursue another artform at night and on weekends, as well as nurture new relationships and try to build up some solid pathway towards their future dreams)—just that it’s a time when it’s okay to make mistakes, that you can head down one road for a while (with work or love) and then decide it’s not for you, and it won’t matter all that much. It’s a time for experimenting and adventuring and finding out who you are, so make the most of it.


Read our full Q&A with Lorelei Vashti here.




Tim Carroll (HOLY HOLY)



One thing that I think is a good, basic premise is not to do any gigs or events that you wouldn't want to go to yourself. Never ask your audience to go to something that if you were sitting at home and heard about you’d be like “that sounds crap.”  You want to create an event where you’re like, “That sounds awesome, I want to be there.”


If you take that approach, I find that it’s easier for music to be what it should be, [a] really amazing and celebratory experience. 


Read our full Q&A with Tim here.









Rhys Nicholson





It’s a cliche, but work hard. It’s a difficult industry. It could take you years to break any ground. Also shower. Backstage rooms are very small and no one like a stinky comedian.


Read our full Q&A with Rhys here.









How do you fuel yourself creatively?  




Lisa Mitchell



I write, long-form, journaling-style. I don't show anyone these. That keeps me trusting myself and reminds me that I don't have to reveal everything to everyone as I don't think that's the goal. I used to think you had to show all your cards, like that was the goal of a great artist. But I now really know that I have to hold jewels that I find in my own heart for a long time sometimes, to feed myself first.


Sometimes I never share these with anyone else, sometimes I share them after a year or sometimes I only need to hold them to myself for a few days and then I share them with others. I've had to really teach myself to do that and it feels really good. It makes me want to share more with others, which is cool. 



Read our full Q&A with Lisa here.







Kim Churchill


I like to paint watercolours. I really suck at it and I think that’s why it's good fuel. It's so lovely to do something creative that you know is super basic and a little bit tragic. It gives you a kind of recklessness that seeps into other areas. Surfing is good too. And yoga. And, oddly enough, getting drunk with my friends and talking crap. If I have a big night I’m always feeling pretty creative the next day.


Read our full Q&A with Kim here.







Tushar Singh (The Winter Gypsy)



We tend to do a lot of creative things that don't involve music. We cook together, Dave builds a bunch of stuff out of recycled wood (smashed pianos), we love playing around with mulled wine recipes, Isaac is an awesome cartoon artist, Sean likes to sit in a corner and laugh to himself, and Jonny has a real gift when it comes to computer games. Max likes to get up at 5am in the morning to watch that workout show before Cheese TV comes on (he's that guy). 


Read our full Q&A with Tushar Singh from The Winter Gypsy here.




Helen Shanahan


I find that other songwriters really inspire me, listening to lots of different music helps me get into a creative space. I still keep a journal and this helps me to keep thinking and work on new ideas. I find it very hard when there’s a creative slump, as it happens quite often haha!! When that happens I just try not to stress, as that’s part of the process of writing music. The more I over think things, the less creative I am and the more I hold back. So I try and de-stress by taking a walk or doing something else for a while, then come back to it even if it’s not for a few weeks.



Read our full Q&A with Helen here.






I love to draw and will spend hours working on pieces for others, which I often give away as gifts. I love to read and I watch a lot of movies. I also make sure I get out into nature. I’m based in Auckland at the moment and the cool thing is, there are so many beaches you can be at in less than 30 minutes. It’s so good for the soul and really does help me get into a creative space.


Read our full Q&A with Theia here.










Andy Price (Family Dog)


I'm surrounded by [creativity]. I'm very privileged. My partner is a brilliant photographer, my siblings are gifted song writers, musicians and authors and my parents paved the way for me to be as creative as I wanted to be with whatever it is I wanted to do... all that stuff helps.


Read our full Q&A with Andy here.






Check out our HUMANS page to read up on the other inspiring creatives that we've chatted to.



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