Just lately, I began to wonder why I have pursued the aspiration to become an artist. Why it has driven me to the point of total exasperation when I have spent so many hours creating something that I am so proud of, only to find that nobody seems to want it.
Ah, but you do it for love, surely. So what if nobody cares. Says the annoying voice in my head.
And yes, I do do it for the pure pleasure it brings to my life, and the sense of fulfilment when a piece of art, something created with your own hands, actually works. But the trouble is, that is only the first part, like an actor or musician, dancer or writer, sculptor or potter or any of the millions of creatives out there, we need somebody else to love it too. We need the audience to come and watch us, hear us and pay for what we have done or somehow value what we achieved.
So many times, I have thought to myself, what is the point, why do I carry on, and then I threaten the universe that I will stop creating if Karma doesn’t give me a bit of encouragement and hopefully reward, now and then.
But I really can’t stop creating. I have tried. For maybe a day, sometimes two if I am feeling really low. And then, I find myself unable to resist the pull of my studio, woefully dark without me in it.
Like most artists, I simply have no recollection of being art-less
From scribbling on the blank canvas my parents called the wall, to having an experience with my first ever critic. (A teacher who simply didn’t get my drawing of the Frankenstein Monster, telling me to draw something pretty) or to making castles out of mud on a rainy day. I am sure we all have similar memories of career advisors laughing at us when we asked how we could become an animator like Disney, wiping their eyes and encouraging us “to stick to the typing dear” (this was in the ’70’s) but still, it hurts. Having a thick skin becomes a necessity in any career that involves laying your soul bare, to whoever glances in your direction.
And what is really frustrating, is the fact that the goal posts just keep on changing. It used to be enough to have a degree in your chosen field, (I don’t have one) get your art in a gallery (no gallery at the moment) then it all became so dependent on social media. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH.
You spend so much time on social media trying to get your message out there in the hope that just one tiny little fish will bite, that your creativity becomes a stifled voice shouting from the attic.
Apart from the fact that I love creating, loving the feel of the paint across a surface, or the excitement of words that suddenly flow from some unknown point in my head, out, onto the page, I also love the fact that I am not alone, I share these feelings, these frustrations, disappointments, and ecstasies that come from the moment of a successful completion of what is, after all, an amazingly human event. So, my message to all you creatives out there, is simply, don’t give up on the very thing that makes you tick. Just enjoy it.