Often, when I see street artists, and every time I see artists that do things that completely surprise me, I try to think of how they get ready for another day’s work.
How the large man in Cologne gets up, checks his water bottles, fills them up with fresh, clean, pure water, and then takes the bus to the shopping street next to the cathedral and entertains people by drinking up all the water, a few liters at a time, only to then somehow get it all up and become a human water fountain.
Or the man at Piccadilly Circus who is dressed up in Union Jacks from head to toe, and I mean that literally. From head to toe. He’s got a Union Jack hat, and his vest, jacket, pants, pockets in his pants, shoes, and socks, they all sport different versions of the British colors and the crosses. Maybe he changes into work clothes closer to Piccadilly, or maybe he wakes up in a suburb somewhere, makes some tea, a toast or two – maybe some marmalade on them – and then changes into his work clothes. He’s already wearing the Union Jack underpants, so the first thing he does is pick up the hat because the hat sets the tone. He’s got several Union Jack hats, of course, so he chooses just the right one for the day. Then he puts on his socks, then shirt, then pants, then the vest, then the jacket. He picks up a sandwich for lunch, and at the door, taps his pockets to make sure he’s got his keys and phone. Then he takes the Tube to Piccadilly.
Or the Wind Swept Man in Manchester, who looks like a man rushing to work, fighting against the wind, his hair sticking out, his tie flying in the wind, a briefcase in his hand. He, too, chooses his tie carefully, according to his mood, the weather, and the crowd he expects to see there but does he then rush to work, so he can stand perfectly still in the middle of Market Street, busy going nowhere fast, frozen in mid-stride, waiting for somebody to drop a coin in his mug so he can drop his briefcase and reset his performance?
The other day, I saw a Blackpool street artist do something I had never seen anyone do before and it really made me wonder how he prepared for his day.
True artists not only want to say something, they need to say it. They devote their lives to spreading the message, entertaining people, making people laugh, cry, and think, and it’s that dedication to master their craft that makes the great ones stand out. They’re the ones the rest of us tell stories of.
According to the sign, the Blackpool artist’s name was Andy. The sign also said, “Upside down and looking daft but that don’t matter as long as it makes you laugh” and “PS. Don’t try this at home.”
So don’t. Just enjoy.