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Confessions of an Outlaw: The Self You Bring, with Philippe Petit

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Published on Feb 21, 2015

How to you inspire people? How do you touch an audience? High-wire artist Philippe Petit explains that the secret is to not try at all. Instead, be yourself. Follow your own personal muses instead of being a crowd pleaser. Genuine individual creativity is endearing enough on its own that if your passion emerges through your work, your audience will be reached.

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Philippe Petit: Many people come to me and they say how courageous they see me. And very often maybe in a shocking way I said but I don’t find myself courageous. I find myself passionate and I love what I do. And if I love what I do I’m going to do it all day long. And if I do it all day long I probably will be very good at it soon. And that’s the story of my life. I started – I was not born in the circus for example where the wirewalkers are so I learned by myself.

As I was learning all my arts, magic, juggling, the high wire, writing books, making films, all those things I realized maybe by looking at performers and also by becoming one that the most powerful way to inspire people to touch an audience is not to try to touch them. It’s to be yourself. If you write a novel for what the people want to read well you’re a writer that will be uninterested in. But if you write because you are devoured inside by a fire and then you need to write or the painter needs to paint, then your work will be interesting and actually some people might hate it or might love it which actually are distant cousins. It’s much more interesting than people who say oh, I don’t remember that work of art. But you will cause a human response much more rich than if you try to please, if you try to, you know, in performance, in show business and I hate that term. You see people on stage a juggler, a magician – they try to make the people laugh. They try to make them applause. And by doing that they take away from their arts. You have to find your own personality, your own style and that takes sometimes a lifetime. Or you can copy people and that’s, you know, an artistic crime. But to go the easy way and to try to be a crowd pleaser at a very young age in my life I realized that was a form of artistic cheatery.

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