Art's Key Ingredient: Vulnerability

in art •  last year

Are you perfect? No? 

Good. Me neither. Let’s talk about that.

If none of us are perfect, why do we go through life pretending as if we are? So much of our speech and our behaviour is devoted to maintaining the edifice of our egos. We try to convince the world that we've "got it all figured out". We say self-inflating statements. We act as if we aren’t scared when we are. We buy things to impress people we don’t even like. I’m guilty of it, and I suspect that you’re guilty of it too. The pursuit of imagined perfection is relentless. And alas, it’s all a charade.

We can stop though. At any moment we can choose to end it. And the moment we give up pretending we’re perfect, an opportunity presents itself.

We can connect with others.

These connections are brought about through our new-found vulnerability.

Vulnerability & Connection

When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, showing the world that we are imperfect beings, suddenly we can better connect with others. They identify with our struggles. They see our flaws in themselves. If we let our guard down, and make confessions of anger, heartbreak, and inadequacy, it acts as an invitation for others to join us in our shared humanity.

Vulnerability breeds intimacy with others. But the pursuit of perceived perfection is the opposite; it is the attempt to keep others out, to keep others from knowing who we truly are.

Because of vulnerability’s tendency to connect human beings through shared experience, this means that vulnerability has a special role in art. Vulnerability is perhaps the most vital variable that can take art from mundane to masterpiece.

Vulnerability & Art

I love to write. And I hate to write.

I love writing, because it allows me to express what I am thinking and feeling. And I hate writing, because it forces me to share what I’m thinking and feeling. 

Are you noticing a paradox or tension here?

I have a love-hate relationship with writing, because it makes me be vulnerable.

When I am vulnerable through writing, I can see when my words make an impact. When people tell me that they feel a connection to my work, it pushes me further down the path of vulnerability. But when I first publish a piece, I feel that all-too-familiar twinge of fear: “You shouldn’t have done that. What if people don’t like it? What if something you said gets you in trouble? That was a dumb idea.” The fear comes from being vulnerable. It comes from knowing that rejection is a card that I just slipped back into the deck.

But art without vulnerability is a hallow act. The artist must have a personal stake in their art for it to move the audience. Sometimes the stakes are low. Other times, they are dizzyingly high.

Art is not safe. The dancer dares to dance before you. The poet wagers their words against your judgment. The writer wrings their hands as they wait for the dice to settle after publishing their book. No matter what the art form, the creator risks something in the act of sharing their art with the world.

Art demands vulnerability. You must show your imperfections in your work. “This is what I think. This is what I feel. This is what I’ve experienced. Embrace it, or tear it to shreds.” Unless there is an honest human being behind the work, it’s hard to call whatever is created “art”. Vulnerability is one of the key ingredients that creates connection with others through any artistic medium.

A Call To Vulnerability

I want to be more vulnerable. I want to share things with the world that I haven’t yet had the courage to share. The publication of this piece is one of my first daunting steps towards this goal.

I have been inspired by the vulnerability that I have seen here on Steemit. Seeing others show their authentic-self bolsters my courage. @Raymondspeaks is a prime example of vulnerability in action. His piece on being a father to a son with autism, and realizing that he too is on the autism spectrum, inspired me to write about vulnerability. Through @Raymondspeaks' vulnerability, he connected with me. His vulnerability urged me to begin sharing more openly in my own writings. Every piece he writes oozes with honesty, and his results speak for themselves.

I encourage all the creatives on Steemit to join me in a vow to be more vulnerable in your art. By putting more of your imperfect self into your work, you will push your art closer to perfection. The real beauty in your work will shine through the seams, cracks, and rough edges that you no longer hide from.

So please, stop trying to be perfect. Let’s all give up the act. Show me your failures, heartbreak, and flaws. It will make your successes, passions, and virtues that much more sublime.

Be vulnerable. Create. Connect.

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really really really great post! yeah ive seen a lot of people do this, including me. either to hide their insecurities or to look good in front of others by portraying a perfect image of themselves. where in reality, its only stunting their growth as a person and living a pretentious life which often result in unhappiness and sadness deep inside.


@Andywong31, that means a lot to me! Yes, being vulnerable is a prerequisite to growth. Really great things start to happen when we bring our "whole self" to the table. We should celebrate the best parts of ourselves, but also acknowledge our trouble areas. Thanks for commenting.


Totally agree Chris! Youre welcome and see you around man! 😀

I love everything about this.

This resonates for me on so many levels! I think that even when I try to be vulnerable (like, posting about my life) I tend to add distractions like jokes and funny gifs, to make the bad stuff more palatable (to myself, if not anyone else).

I will say it's interesting that, when I posted a rare selfie a couple years back on FB, that people I hadn't heard from in years commented and liked my post. Oh, did I mention I had no makeup, hadn't showered in days, and had been ill? Being vulnerable seems to touch a nerve (in a good way) with people.

Well done, Chris!


Thanks @TraciYork! Yes, when others see us accept ourselves, I feel it invites them to as well. Maybe try just letting it rip next time rather than softening the blow with humour?


I can relate to this. Sometimes when I feel the least presentable (sweaty from exercise, messy hair, tired or ill), I seem to get the most compliments. Perhaps it is fellow humans sensing subconsciously that our "mask" is off and we can connect on a very instinctual level. I encourage you, and myself, to share authentically and experiment with leaving out the softening humor or bright-siding to speak our truths. I'll follow your blog and look forward to connecting. Here's my intro, it's my first week on steemit :)

The vulnerability of baring myself fully clenches the belly panics the heart stands my hairs on end. It is truly the most terrifying thing to stand in ones authenticity. And yet. And yet. The courage it takes. The great tender strength. The spine tingling elation. The heart swells, and magic. The naked beauty borne, in feeling you,
great post!


I suppose we need to remember that vulnerability won't kill us, eh? It feels dangerous, but we'll survive it. But it's not fun to take that leap! But worth it in the end.

I, too, was ambivalent about writing when I first began (as a teenager) because I did not want to reveal my soft spots to the world, @chrismccron. Then, over time, I realized that the more vulnerable I was, the more I was likely to connect; the more intimate, the more universal...

Encouraging paradox to discover and now I think of the writer's task as standing naked in public, stripped to the soul. Unflinching witness and world mirror, through which others gaze into to see their wound & Beauty

As Edgar Allen Poe suggested, 'any (wo)man who dared to lay their heart bare, would produce a work of genius'.

Write on, man!


Wow. Great comment. Thanks so much for reading.

I'm happy to hear that you have arrived at a position similar to mine with writing. It's a powerful insight for sure.

And I hope Edgar Allen Poe was right! I'd like to say if the three of us hold the same position, maybe great minds think alike? ;)


Encouraged by your kindness, I offer you a peek at my own ‘heart laid bare’, my forthcoming book of original sayings (nearly 10 years in the making)



Thank you for thinking to share that. I will have a peek at it. :)

Have yourself a wonderful day, Yahia!


Much appreciated- hope it captures your imagination 🙇🏻

Good evening, Chris ✨

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Wow Chris. That was really good. This post was really inspiring to me.

I feel like you deserve a slow clap or something.

Also, “The writer wrings their hands as they wait for the dice to settle after publishing their book.”
That was a very poetic line, and it warmed up those poetic feelings in me.

Very good post, Chris.


Thanks for reading, man! It's a topic that I care about. I think that we honestly take on more risk when we refuse to be vulnerable. We miss out on life when we don't put a little something of ourselves on the line...but, that's a story for another day maybe, or another post all together!

True. Vulnerability is the one that pushes you to create. When I'm vulnerable, then I throw myself into a creative ocean, sometimes swimming swiftly to the shore, sometimes I drown in the ocean lyrics. You, readers, are the ones on the shore.


Well, put!

If we don't have that rawness of human experience, where does the art come from? I don't think we have to have experienced tremendously unfortunate experiences, but we have to be real. Putting some authenticity into one's art can super charge it in a weird way. Even confessing extremely positive emotions can be an act of vulnerability (which I didn't cover well in this piece). Thanks for the comment.

Good show - I'm looking forward to seeing your first piece! You could always start easy with something that you dislike and how it makes you feel! :)


You're probably wise to recommend starting small! Easing one's way into showing more vulnerability is probably a good way to go. My favourite writers and artists seem to have a knack for sharing all aspects of themselves. Something to aspire to I guess!


Yup. It's always good to start easy! I did myself. I think my very first vulnerability post was about how the job that sacked me made me feel worthless. But there was more going on there - management was terribly abusive

Beautifully worded and encouraging post, I fully agree! I'm new here on Steemit, and just beginning to share my songs, poetry, and art online. It's scary because it feels vulnerable, intimate and raw. But... that IS what makes it art, isn't it? If it feels safe and comfortable it probably isn't going to move anyone very much.

Bit by bit I'm letting go of my perfectionism death grip, taking deep breaths, reminding myself that it can be raw and unpolished and still be valuable, and putting it out there.

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It's a great post... Truly inspiring and original

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That's great to see! Thank you for the shout out. I appreciate it. :D

Great post there, keep up good work !

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It reminds me of Murakami book What I talk When I Talk about running. In one part he is talking just about what you were thinking about. There is lot truth about that! Vulnerable is strong!


What a strange paradox, right? We are stronger when we show our weaknesses and acknowledge them in the light of day. "Vulnerable is strong" is a good slogan!

Thank you so much for your insight. Your words were moving. It takes courage to express yourself- no matter the medium. It is a fascinating concept that a performer would willingly expose themselves to the "trauma" associated with exposing their vulnerability. It doesn't seem rational, yet artists do it all the time. I think you're on to something, lol.


Hey @Jtuscano! Thanks for reading. I'm really pleased that my words moved you. I think the discovery of vulnerability's importance is something that people figure out all the time. It's important in art, friendship, dating, personal growth, etc. I think it's an underlying principle in many things.

This is an amazing post!

I love this...thanks for sharing.


I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Wow such a great post @crismccron!


I am happy that you stopped by to check it out!

Excellent perspectives, thank you for sharing! The more I embrace the willingness to be vulnerable, the richer my creative endeavors and life experiences become. Glad to find your blog during my first week as a steemian. Following! Here's my intro if you want to say hi! "We're here to connect." :)


Thanks for the comment. Welcome to Steemit! I hope that you enjoy the platform!