This recent post from Chuck Wendig’s blog Terrible Minds got to me:
Nobody wants you to be an artist.
It’s for a lot of reasons. Some come from a good place — they think, hey, we want better for you. The life of an artist is hard. Be a bricklayer, a doctor, a ROCKET LAWYER, something, anything. Art is how you lose. Art is how you die. Don’t be an artist, because we don’t want to see you struggle, starve, and go mad.
Some of the reasons come from a deeply cankerous place: jealousy (“why do you get to fritter away your hours MAKING ART and I have to sell toilets?”) or misunderstanding (“art isn’t work, it’s just lazy piffle for lazy losers”) or alien menace (“ART GIVES HUMAN BEINGS HOPE AND IT MAKES THEM MORE RESISTANT TO HOSTILE TAKEOVER FROM EXTRATERRESTRIAL FORCES”).
Some governments don’t want artists because art is truth, even when couched in illusion or deception. Some schools don’t want art because how do you test art, and everything is about the test, goddamnit. Want to get a mortgage? Tell them you’re an artist and ha ha ha oh shit.
Art is a hobby, art is a waste of time, art is a thing you do when you’re in elementary school or in the retirement home. It isn’t a life. It isn’t a career. FUCK YOU, NO ARTING.
Chuck Wendig’s blog goes on to explore where his will to persist arises from. For him, it involves a lot of fierce defiance, a big don’t-tell-me-what-to-do with a lot of cursing. And, I get that, being infuriated by this ignorant culture and the stacked deck that creatives seem to face.
But what if that “F-you” attitude doesn’t really energize you? What if your art needs to be about connecting and caring? What if you really DO care what other people think?
To some extent Chuck is absolutely right, Nobody wants you to be an artist. There’s plenty of discouragement to go around.
But listen inside: YOU DO. YOU want to create, pursue, invent, explore.
Then get to work.
Forget perfection. You can’t control success. You aren’t anybody else. You are you. It doesn’t matter if anyone believes in you. Let their disbelief charge your batteries.
You can believe in you.
Focus on today. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Make something. Create something.
That’s the place I need to dwell. I want to paint. I live for creating. So, back to work! I have buttercups to paint. It’s great work if you give it to yourself.
5 thoughts on “defy reality: be an artist”
I like what you say about resisting the f-you attitude, and claiming the belief and joy attitude, with the knowledge that art can be a hard road, and many fear the truths we can tell. I’d love to see a self portrait of you as an artist — that winsome anime girl kind of gives me the willies, beautifully executed as it is.
Also, Art IS Reality! Sigh. For the non-artist, or the conflicted ones, or in our conflicted moments, it doesn’t FEEL that way, does it…. until we dive in again….
A special thank you for this one! How about an artist’s date very soon? A museum (with lots of sitting down) and lunch, my treat!
Love (and miss) you
I absolutely loved this and shared it on my twitter. I’m constantly getting negativity from my friends and family about pursuing a life in art but this reminds me to just keep at it because it’s what I enjoy.
thank you so much for reading. and keep the faith! When your soul calls to you, listen.