Artist2Artist: Adam Welsh “You Don’t Have to Know What You’re Doing”

Artist2Artist is our new blog series where we ask artists to share the tips and tricks that have helped them pivot their practice and grow as an artist.

This week we talked to Adam Welsh, where he shares his advice on how to continue creating work when you’re doubting yourself.

I don’t really feel in a position to give you any tips. I genuinely am looking for all the tips I can get right now… But I will do this- I will tell you the things that I have to remind myself time and time again, and the things that I wish someone else would say to me in the moments when I’m struggling:

  • You don’t have to know what you’re doing.
  • If you want to make better theatre, watch less theatre.
  • You don’t have to be productive all of the time.
  • You don’t have to justify what you do in financial terms…
  • …but know your worth – don’t work for free.
  • Just because your application got rejected, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea.
  • Use your work to ask the questions that are too difficult to ask in everyday life.
  • It’s ok if you don’t find any answers.
  • Your work doesn’t have to be “about” anything.
  • Learn to step away from it and come back.
  • Don’t just work with your mates.
  • Work with people who will tell you if it’s shit.
  • If an artistic choice scares you, that’s the one to make.
  • Make the work that you want to see.
  • Make the work that people don’t know they want to see.
  • Don’t overthink it.
  • Don’t try and be clever.
  • Just be honest.
  • You don’t have to do everything yourself.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  • It’s ok if your first draft is rubbish.
  • It’s ok if your second draft is nothing like the first draft, and also rubbish.
  • It’s ok to do 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 drafts before it starts working.
  • Don’t get too wedded to one idea.
  • Test your work in front of a live audience.
  • If there’s a chance it could go seriously wrong, it’s probably good.
  • If it’s still in your head two weeks after coming up with it, it’s worth pursuing.
  • There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know”

About the Artist:

Adam Welsh is a writer, performer and sound designer who was recently commissioned by CPT to create a new piece of digital/live performance as part of our Outside the Box artist scheme.

His debut show There but for the grace of God (go I) was developed with CPT and ARC, Stockton and most recently seen at Soho Theatre. He has worked with organisations such as The National Theatre, Headlong, Barbican, Schaubühne, Druid, Live Theatre, Young Vic, Sage Gateshead, The Yard, BAC, ARC Stockton, and Lincoln Center NYC. He is co-founder and associate artist of Obie award winning theatre company Dead Centre.