Artists are Internal Therapist


This really struck a chord with me when I read it. Of course this has its own place and application, but I feel this does have some serious merit. This was written for musicians but I feel like it applies to all arts. Enjoy

The following is an excerpt of Karl Paulnack’s address to the parents of the incoming freshman at Boston Conservatory in 2004.

“If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you’re going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.

You’re not here to become an entertainer, and you don’t have to sell yourself. The truth is you don’t have anything to sell; being a musician isn’t about dispensing a product, like selling used cars. I’m not an entertainer; I’m a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music (or art); I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.”


What do you think?

It’s a beautiful way to look at your creations.  I will say this, most great art derives from some kind of torment, even maybe subconscious.  Commercial work, such as commercial advertising or graphic design is made to sell. But remember they hired you, for your artistic and technical approach.  Don’t forget to put YOU in YOUR work.

Have fun



  • This is great, very inspiring. I love looking at yourself as a therapist for the human soul. Thank you for sharing

  • Luke Huch says:

    Oh man… Spot on, just Spot on. The nature of the artist is so often one of independence, meaning we dont often have others holding us accountable or demanding we improve, grow or get creating, that its refreshing and vital to hear things like this. Our gifts were given to us with an expectation to produce. We have a responsibility. I’ll always remember one of my most impacting mentors once telling me, “You dont get to JUST know what you know.” In other words we have an obligation. God gives us the ability, but its up to us to develop the gifts. Hmmmm, Sounds like a reson to come to MotoMondays!

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