Where I talk about learning to have confidence in yourself as an artist in a culture that does hold any respect for the arts.
Being an artist is hard. Wanting to be an artist is almost harder. The practicalities of trying to make art for a living are incredibly terrifying and overwhelming - especially when the greater portion of our society holds very little respect for the importance of art and artistic thinking. When a society chooses to devalue the importance of art however, I believe that it says more about the state of the society than the worth of the artist - and actually only serves to increase the importance of art in the society. Creation is at the deepest core of the human condition - it drives us, shapes us, as individuals and a society. When art is suppressed the culture suffers; when art is devalued, the culture suffers.
But like Vonnegut says, art is not a way to make a living. I would add that this is true only in an unhealthy society - which I suppose says a lot about my opinion of most modes of society for the past few thousand years. But I believe that this has to be the fundamental change we, as a society, need to begin to make if we are going to continue to survive and evolve; if the society we live within today is ever going to break its chains of conformity to supposed social imperatives. I understand art as a means for the self discovery of individuals, and through the individual, the society as a whole. I'm suggesting that the greatest test for any country is not just how it treats its weakest members, but how it treats its artists.
The fact that it is so very difficult to survive as an artist in our society means that our society is unhealthy - that its capacity for imagination and free thought is restricted in some way - in this case by the system of capitalism inherently a part of the modern social view, and ultimately just another human construction (though that is a different conversation I might write about later).
If you want to make it as an artist in this society you have to be a right tenacious bastard. You need to create art on the days when you work two shifts and feel like your eyeballs will roll out of your head. You have to create art in the car on the way to work or the way to class. You have to create art before you go to bed each night. You have to create art when you get up in the morning. You have to create art when you're browsing social media sites online. The goal is to reach a point where your contemplation of your art is a daily, minute-by-minute meditation practice that surrounds every single other element of your life. In a society that demands high-functioning indentured workers, you need to take the initiative in making time for your art. If your art isn't your priority in your life you're not going to get far as an artist.
If it seems like an awful lot of effort - it is. But it's also worth it, if, that is, you really feel the need to create art.
That said, simply bashing your head into the wall doesn't do you any good either. Life in our society is far too fast-paced and stressful to pile on a mandate that requires you to segregate yourself from anything not directly forwarding your art. Instead, begin to view every moment of your life as an experience worthy of artistic merit. Allow yourself to enjoy the little things; enjoy the simple act of living as you have to live, and let the art flow around your life, instead of blocking it. I think a lot of people become very bullheaded about the idea of reaching "success" as an artist, without settling into their work as an end into itself. They become too worried about sustaining themselves as an artist, and forget to live the art they want to create. Art isn't something you can machine press through sheer force of will - it's a mindset wherein you cannot feel satiated without actively pursuing your goals. That may not seem like that huge a difference, but trust me, it is. We're all just creatures of the mind, and how we choose to view the world creates our world - and the art we make might just help someone else see the world a little differently, or a little more clearly. In the end, that's the best we can hope for. Money, fame - all the rest is just set dressing for the body and the ego, and that's not what art is fundamentally about.
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