Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Your lap!

It is really hard to embrace the responsibility that being an artist entails. Most artists would turn back if they realized the truth. But the truth is not a bad thing. Quite the contrary. The truth will not only set you free, as they say, it will save you.

Now we all know that artists get warned before they choose a life of art: it will be hard, it will be a struggle, it will mean suffering. As though some other life can somehow side step these things. What they don't tell you is why!

Why is it going to hurt? Why? Why is devoting your life to this mystery called art going to hurt so much?

Before I get to that, sorry, I want to talk about something totally connected to that pain. False expectations! False expectations dog the would be artist from day one! False expectations are laid at your feet, stuffed in your pockets, dropped in your drink! They are everywhere. I remember one of the first stuffed in my pocket: "when you're famous..."

People were always being kind when I was a boy, and asking me to sign things so that they would have them when I was famous. Harmless enough. But right there is the information that being an artist inevitably leads to fame, that art and fame go together, that maybe you can't have art without fame.

But that's not the half of it. Artists seem to inherit a boat load of expectations. Like getting support for spending time making art, instead of for spending 40 or 50 hours a week in a cubicle, or a factory, or on a construction site, or in the office. Like people are supposed to show your work, or buy your work, or like your work, or even care about it. Like it is supposed to matter or be important. I know of very few artists who are not psychotically obsessed in this regard.

An artist's responsibility is not to make others care about their work. But who knew? It is very hard to get around this for most people. People are supposed to want to help artists in their quest for fame. Right?

Being an artist hurts because artists believe all the crap they see and hear along the way. Even successful artists fall prey to this stuff in a quest for more: more support, more attention, more celebrity. How many times do you hear about artists leaving one gallery to go to another because they didn't think that they were being treated well enough. Or well-known artists who are depressed because they aren't more well-known?

Art is a gift. That gift is a responsibility. Gifts are for giving. Again, remember why you did it in the first place. Stay close to the bone. They don't call it the razor's edge for nothing.

Is it time for a "Moment of Tuttle?" No. Maybe later. In the meantime. Keep your expectations where they belong. Squarely on yourself. In your lap!

-- Post From My iPhone

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