The one secret that lies behind Mastery

I'm sure you recognize this quote:

Please, come. Sit down. I imagine that right now you're feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole? Hm?

I can't think of a better parallel to illustrate the secret that lies behind the success of the greatest artists in history than the story of Neo's awakening.


Yes, there is a secret, known for millenniums. There is also a set a preconceptions that can prevents you from seeing the simple truth behind mastery. Perhaps you already unveiled it, in which case you know what I'm talking about. But if you haven't yet, maybe that's because it is both obvious and well hidden. 

Thinking outside of art conventions requires much more than just trying to cheat at drawing and painting: The Art Hacker state of mind is about hacking in your own thinking in order to reach your art goals.


To hack in the matrix (1999 movie), Neo needs first to awaken his mind to its existence. Until he does it, every attempt to think outside of the box results in him following rules erected by others (machines) to safeguard their interests.

In the art world too, some people tend to protect their interests. Ego can mix with cult of personality and money to erect business-friendly rules. There's no art conspiracy though, just people whose goals might simply differ from yours.

Maybe your art school truly believes that drawing is the most fundamental skill to be a successful concept artist. If this is the core of their business, then it makes perfect sense. And as I said in a previous email, why not? If it works for you, then that's fine.


From my own perspective though, it sounds a bit like saying: oranges are the core fundamental of jam. I agree that oranges make awesome jam. But I think the core fundamental of jam's mastery is an understanding of the chemical processes behind cooking fruits, sugar and pectin. And of course, a good taste, to avoid mixing the wrong species together, a developed smell and an eye for colors, so I can decide when I'm overcooking and burning fruit pigments.

I know from many comments and emails that, maybe, you still think using anything else than drawing and painting is cheating, though you understand it's not. Well, I know what you feel.

When you've been told by so many trusted sources that this is the most fundamental skill, no surprise this is hard to swallow. It took me a while, a few months, to fully grasp the extent of what I'm going to explain below.



So, are you ready for the red pill?

There's no comeback from accepting the idea I'm going to introduce :)

You can reject it, I can't force you to take that pill. You can continue working a lifetime on anatomy, another on drawing and a third on linear perspective. If this makes you happy and help you reach your fulfillment as an artist and as a human being, then this is certainly the right path for you.

Or you can accept it, take control over your own growth as an artist and start to see the code that lies behind every form of art excellency. Whatever the technique is, drawing, painting, sculpting, traditional, digital, collage, photography, it doesn't matter. Once you see the code of the matrix, you'll see progresses over weeks if not days.


Take a deep breath and a sip of water, here is that red pill:


Ars est celare artem: It is (the ultimate) art to conceal art


I'm sure you didn't expected that. That's the red pill. It looks like a pill and it's red. Not impressive at all.

But this is where your journey as an art hacker begins. If you can swallow it.

This saying is so old that we lost tracks of its author. Some says it's from Ovide, others Horace, but it seems to be even older. It appears that old masters, over the past two thousands years, knew about it: It was their ultimate goal, their Holy Grail, the purpose of their art quest.

What does it mean? In other words, art consists in concealing the artifices you use to create your art, these artifices being themselves art. Art is not only the result itself, but even more importantly all the secret processes, knowledges, understandings, mind tricks, stories and know-hows you carefully conceal inside it.

It applies to all forms of art, and allow to mix them one with another to infinite extents. You can start to design graphical rhythms in writing, blend poetry in your painting, disguise color schemes in music composition, add narrative lighting to your choreography and bring dramaturgy in your sculptures.

Pushing this essential idea forward, art is recursive by nature: art always conceals another form of art: art (is the art (inside the art (of concealing the art (of creating art))).

The more secret hacks you add in your process, the more you secretly mix different art forms together, and the more tricks you use to conceal them all, the stronger your art becomes because you add an incredible depth to your final piece.

In a way, it all makes sense when you go back to the roots of the word "art". It's only later in history that "art" started to define the result of the process. For a long time this word was about the core knowledges and know-hows that artists kept secret in the back of their workshop.


I believe this is what the greatest masters of their time understood and made their art so powerful.


Art is not about the few techniques you show off, it's about the many ones you conceal.


Did you know about ars est celare artem? How do you understand it?

Let me know what you think here or in the Facebook group!