Posts

The Artist’s Dilemma

The Artist gives her heart to the cause. Her work, I’ve heard many times, isn’t for the audience.

It’s for Art’s sake. 

The Marketer positions the work so that the audience will make a decision to buy it. Her work, on the other hand is to profit from the Art.

This works very well when the production team is staffed with artists who are pleased with the opportunity to deliver their art for the greater good. It pleases their soul.

If the artists produce their art for an organization that recognizes the value of their art, they are well-compensated for their contribution. The Marketers, then take the work of the Artists and find a way to help the organization profit from the work the artists are contributing.

This, to me is a win-win proposal. It’s a conversation for another day.

The “hard work”, as Seth calls it, is when the Artist must also be the Marketer.

To feel the joy that comes from making art, and the passion to make a significant contribution, when she must also generate a living.

This might be why so many Artists struggle with Imposter syndrome.

On one hand, it’s our art, and it’s a joy to create it.

To achieve mastery of our art is our never-ending quest.

On the other hand, the agony of feeling like we must position our passion as a “business,” challenges the artist and leaves her questioning whether her motives are pure.

Whether she can make a difference, AND a living.

Getting paid to Sprint — is that the same as selling out? If (and that’s the big ‘IF’) she can profit from her Art, the same way an organization with its own marketing team might.

In the end, the Artist will choose to do what calls her soul and leads her to do work that matters.

And this, is what finding real talent might look like today. To know someone who would lay it all on the line for the sake of their art, is to know that someone is truly committed to the art that they produce.

The thing is, art isn’t easy.

If it were easy, art would not hang on walls, or be revered or appreciated, because it wouldn’t be art — it would be commonplace.

It if were easy, more people would choose to make a difference, instead of simply opting to make a living.

If it were easy, the young artist wouldn’t be discouraged by her parents from pursuing her art – (thank goodness that was not a challenge I ever experienced.)

So, maybe, art isn’t for art’s sake after all.

Maybe it’s for human’s sake.

Because the art of being human, taking the risk of being vulnerable, and waking up day after day knowing “this might not work” is exactly what makes us human, and the joy of doing work that matters might just become an art form …

Someday, this is what success might look like.

The Artist (is) Inside

What are you craving? That tugging in your heart isn’t going to go away. You know it, I know it. The thing you’ve always wanted to do, but dismiss as impossible? That’s The Muse. Your Muse.

Everyone (Yes, even you) has art inside them. You might have a desire to write, or sing, or grow vegetables in your garden. Maybe you make things, or you take things that are already made and make them different. Maybe — just maybe — it’s peacemaking, or hand holding, or listening. Strategy, logic, fact finding, cheerleading. In fact, I am willing to bet that whatever Your Muse suggests when she visits you, is currently peeking into your  thoughts right this minute. THAT “thing” is your ART! 

Everything is art. And everyone has an artist inside.

I know, for some of us, it’s hard to believe. We tell ourselves (or maybe we’ve been told) not to be foolish — that Artists are painters, musicians, actors, and authors. We might even acknowledge the work that doctors and lawyers do as “art.” It took a long time for me to accept this myself, but that realization — that acknowledgment that the passion in my work was art — was a liberating process. It was a process. Initiated, at first by a suggestion from someone I barely knew — kind of like me, telling you this today.

A bug in my ear, and an opportunity to look at myself differently — to see me from the outside. And, it was this suggestion that started the conversation that led me to writing this. That led me to believing the Muse.

Saying “Yes” to the Muse

In the moments that you feel that craving, when the Muse nudges you with an idea, or something you’ve always thought you’d like to do — but, then, right after that moment, more quickly, and less subtly, “No” comes slamming in to your brain with the authority of a giant. You might not even realize it’s happening.

Until you start paying attention.

That’s what happened to me. By the sheer suggestion (there are no coincidences) of that acquaintance, I started to listen to the Muse. And I considered “Yes” — but just for a moment. I took inspiration out of the box, and held it in my hands for a moment. I might have even cried a little at the complete beauty that I saw, for the first time. But, I quickly put it right back, afraid of what it might mean. Considering “Yes” for the first time might be terrifying. We analyze the possibilities and we question our sanity. And, these thoughts — after our initial consideration result in “No.”

Don’t worry, most people say no. We tell ourselves someone else is already doing that, or we don’t have time, or we’re not ready, or…. And all of those thoughts are absolutely true! There is always an absolutely perfect reason to say no. There will always be a counter-operative to your inspiration.

You might want to give her a name. The Resistance is what Steven Pressfield calls it in The War of Art. And Seth Godin call it the Lizard Brain in Icarus Deception, but you can call it whatever you want. The most important step, is identifying and accepting yourself as an artist. Because as soon as that happens, Magic Starts:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

— W.H. Murray The Scottish Himalayan Expedition.

When I read this quote, in The War of Art, I knew I would be coming back to it. My artist inside connected with it, maybe there’s something in this post today that your artist connects to — maybe today is the day you consider saying “Yes”?