Work is Good: Get Thee Behind Me, Gurus of Art Twee
I’ve been trying to figure out how to frame this for a long time. How to make a point that everyone can and should make art if they want, while at the same time, making the point that creating art that is actually good, or of cultural value, or even salable, is not so simple.
The Gurus of Art Twee disturb me, because they sloganeer at people, convincing them that Anybody can Make Art, and conflate the work of little Timmy with the Mona Lisa, as if art is one thing that encompasses any recorded emotional human experience, and not a vast bell curve of value quite beyond your personal investment and values.
When someone creates a work that is something beyond personal value, something that is of value to others, or culturally important, then that is something that is rare and precious. And not everyone can do that, or gets to share in it beyond being a consumer or patron. It’s not something you get to make for yourself just by wanting to.
Art may be easy, but stop lying to people Gurus of Art Twee. GOOD ART IS RARE AND IT IS HARD.
It is right and proper to encourage those who want to make pictures or write stories, but there is also a lot to be said for moderating the discussion with reality – the reality that you put it out there, that thing that is a part of you, and that you love – and the world will judge, and that judgment may be rough.
Go for it.
Do it. Dream.
But DREAMS DON’T COME TRUE UNTIL YOU WAKE UP.
Gurus of Art Twee are trying to sell you a t-shirt with a slogan on it, or they are trying to contextualize the good feeling of their pep talk about how you too can be a wonderful artist with whatever book or album they are trying to sell.
Anyone can open their mouth and sing. Not everyone is good at it. Sing in the shower, by all means. Bless you. But the right to make art is often confused with the right to be perceived as being good or successful at it.
The Art is Easy! slogan is nice, because it is encouraging and tra la, but it’s twee. Being an actual professional artist is not easy. I mean, bricklaying isn’t rocket science either, but no one devalues the labor that goes into it.
Every time someone twees Art is Easy! Michelangelo’s ghost is forced to haul another cart of Corinthian marble in Hell.
My blog is full of examples of my encouraging people to make art. But I ALWAYS temper it with a dose of reality. Making art does not make you a professional.
Not being a pro does not mean you can’t live an art centered life and be perfectly happy.
I have wasted much of my precious time on this earth worrying about whether or not people thought I was a good artist. If I’d put all that time into actually working harder on my art and blocking out the noise, I’d be a much better artist today.
Finding the right advisors to help you become the artist you want to be is difficult. Your internal voice is tough, but judging the verity of the external voices can be even tougher. Sometimes they are ignorant and cruel, and sometimes they are simply telling you what you are not prepared to hear.
You may very well be a wonderful artist or writer or musician.
But it will have absolutely nothing to do with what someone is trying to sell you.
It will have everything to do with what comes from inside you.
It’s yours and you don’t need slogans. You don’t need gurus.
And this post is way too big to fit on a t-shirt.
So, have it for free.
Art is easy? HAH! Art is hard.
Art is a matter of the heart, as easy as falling in love and just as common; but falling out of love is just as common and never easy.
And art is love and lack thereof, every single day.