Finding Stan Lee

song in my head — “Vindicated” by Dashboard Confessional

When it comes to art, the voice of the artist matters.

But what does "voice" even mean?

Voice, I believe, is perspective, and perspective is the key to making good art. It's the inner viewpoint you're trying to outwardly communicate.

Okay, yes, voice has a little bit to do with how you tell your story—your choice of genre, the pacing, the tone and use of language, violence (or lack thereof), description (or lack thereof), etc. But that's superficial skin compared to the necessary meat beneath.

In my opinion, an artist's "voice" makes an artist; it's why they create. Your art should be the reflection of a conglomeration of experiences, interests, emotions, opinions, beliefs, world views, and everything else that adds up to make you who you are. If this voice or perspective is missing, the audience will know it. They might have enjoyed the recipe you concocted, but it won’t be a lasting taste.

And worst of all, it won’t last for you as the artist, not in the deeper, meaningful way that it should.

So, ask yourself this: could anyone create the thing you just created? If so, you owe it to yourself and the people you hope to serve to try harder to be you. Inject every word and every scene with your theme—what you think and what you want to say, and leave finding the audience to the birds.

Because I genuinely believe that if you put something with perspective out in the world, and that you craft this with skill and style and understanding, you will find fans. And those fans will follow you anywhere. So don't be afraid to create the strangest thing you can, something unique that sings of only you. If it has a heartbeat, the audience will find it. The right tribe will embrace it.

Anyone can create a superhero. There have been knock-offs of characters with powers and superhero stories since we've been telling stories! But not everyone could’ve created Spider-man. Stan Lee wrote what Stan Lee wrote because only Stan Lee could write it.

People like us do things like this.

We see then that the answer isn't to "be Stan Lee."

The answer is to find the Stan Lee within you. Who are you? What do you do? What do you stand for?

Now go stand.

— G