Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The myth of the artistic gift

Don’t tell me I’m gifted. It’s insulting. My ability to make pictures is not a gift. I suppose you could say that I have been gifted the faculties necessary to make art, sure; my hands, my eyeballs, they could be considered gifts. I did nothing to earn them, so I suppose that counts. Thanks mom and dad, and countless years of mutation and selection. But the thing is, pretty much everyone has access to those biological tools. If you are reading this, good chance is, you’ve got them too. Having strong artistic abilities, however, is no gift.

A gift is something given to a person. Artistic skill is never given to someone, and I am no exception. I busted my ass to get to where I am, and I’m not even good. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, and when I am not making art, I am thinking about making art (or sometimes the sex – what’s a guy to do?). It’s not some talent I have; it’s a skill cultivated through years of hard work and countless failures. I was not born with this. It was not handed to me in some gilded chalice. I was not blessed with it. It was not free. Don’t call it a gift.

If you look at a truly amazing piece of art, know this: Whoever made that thing, poured everything they had into it. They may have made it look easy, but I assure you it wasn’t. It took all of the effort they have mustered over their entire lives to make that piece. Art is hard. Don’t ever be fooled into believing otherwise. If you are an artist, don’t let anyone make what you do out to be less than it really is. And if you don’t think making art is hard, then you are probably a shitty artist. If you are not exhausted after every painting you do, you’re doing it wrong. Everything you make should be the best you can make it, and that means working harder than you’ve ever worked before. Every time.

I know I am not very good at what I do. Not yet. But I intend to be the best. Maybe I cannot be the best artist in the world (art is subjective after all…) but I can certainly be the best artist I can be. The only way to become the best, however, is to throw the yolk over your shoulders and plow. The cliché goes, “suffer for your art,” and it is a damn good cliché. This doesn’t mean starve yourself, or that you have to be emotionally distressed, or be constantly filled with angst. No, it means something far simpler. Bust. Your. Ass.

That all said, it’s time for me to shut up and draw.

end rant


Rob said...

You have a true gift for ranting. Made my day

Joycer said...

Here here!