|I picked this image because literally no one has a problem with clowns.|
Here's What I Really Think of You (No not YOU...maybe.)
There are a lot of artists in my life, some closer to me than others. Most I am in awe of–their dedication, their passion, their unceasing discipline–and they continuously motivate me to be better. And every once in a while one shocks the hell out of me by saying the same thing about me in return. It is in the swirl of creative energy and excuseless toil that we all thrive on one another, and it is never a surprise to me how clusters of serious artists so often tend to gravitate towards each other.
However some artists in my distant orbit are constant reminders of what not to do, who not to be, and useful cautionary tales for all artists. While I'm 99% sure that no one I'm talking about will ever actually read this post (for reasons ranging from a crippling case of narcissism to a minor case of death) a few friends might wonder, "Is that about me?"
No. It's not. Really. Probably. Almost certainly. Maybe.
Or maybe I'm writing several messages to myself, and these things are just so common that they affect all artists to greater or lesser degree. We all fall into the same pitfalls, and certainly many of these could apply to most of us at one time or another.
Or maybe I made composite artists to write notes to–each note representing a pitfall I've seen multiple artists fall into.
Or maybe it is about you (it's not) and I just wrote all this misdirection and obfuscation crap to throw you off the scent. (I didn't.) (Or did I?)
If something here resonates–makes your scalp tingle with the certainty that somehow that one is actually about you–perhaps you should think of it more like a rorschach inkblot test of artistic danger zones. Because if you're reading this, you weren't the person I was thinking of when I wrote it....probably.
- You need to get to work. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Shit, I had four this morning on the toilet.
- You've been twiddling on that book for as long as I've known you (and that's going on a decade now). Your perfectionism is either an excuse, or it's time to move on to new projects and put that in a drawer. Tooling that thing forever is a trap.
- (In my best Warwick Davis voice:) If only you'd quit talking about it.
- You seem to be a critic more than an artist. (And a harsh critic at that.) That's okay, but own it, so that those of us actually creating shit can get busy ignoring you.
- People who are pointing out that you haven't actually done anything in six months but insist how successful you are going to be aren't actually haters. The word you're looking for is "realists."
- You make beautiful things. I wish I had a tenth of your talent. I kind of hate you. And I kind of hate that I hate you.
- If you try to actually be another artist (and I mean down to the fashion choices), you will only ever come up short in the comparison of people who would rather see/hear/read that artist. Go do your own thing.
- You have wonderful vision, and tragic execution. Give yourself more time to smooth your art under loving hands. It's got so much potential but you rush through. (In the case of your particular art it is the revision process of writing.) You end up with a good idea that is too rough around the edges.
- Do you really think people haven't noticed that the astonishing Facebook claims about your meteoric rise and unbelievable breaks into the industry never actually come to pass? Like...ever.
- If you want to do your trade skill as an art, do it. But the years just keep stretching onward and you're still dreaming about that day....someday....
- I'm trying very hard not to be consumed by a fireball of envy for your success. If my smile seems plastic from time to time, it is because of the acute pain.
- Adding zombies is not going to make it "fresh." And you're talking to a guy who loves him some zombies.
- You are chewing through anyone of any integrity who would ever want to work with you. All an artist has is their integrity. And you are trying to break into an incestuous little industry where reputation matters.
- When every other thing you say is about how you don't care what anyone thinks of you, it is pretty clear that you actually do care–you care that people think you don't care what they think of you.
- Look, I'm not saying that you haven't become a world renowned professional level photographer in the two years since you took it up at your local community college, but maybe your success on social media comes from the 90% male following who comment on your every selfie (selfies that you post more than all of the pictures of your work combined) with how beautiful you are. Maybe.
- You have a very inflated sense of how important your opinion is. Maybe you should just shut up and quietly not like things once in a while instead of inflicting your opinion on everything–or at least refrain from arguing with the people who DO like it. That kind of karma comes back around.
- You're manic about ideas, but you have zero work ethic on follow through. If you think the industry you're trying to break into won't notice that you evaporate like a dusting of night snow in the daytime sun whenever the effort part of your projects comes along, you're wrong.
- You can't just keep using people who want to sleep with you for free services. Unless that's actually what you're negotiating and in that case I am very progressive about not stigmatizing the sex industry.
- You're trying to do too many things! That's fine if you just want to have some artsy hobbies, but you seem to want to be a professional in every art you practice. Lots of artists dabble in other disciplines for fun. But the time and effort it takes to really rock one art (to say nothing of getting paid or establishing a reputation) means that they pick the one discipline they really care about and sink their teeth into it. The rest are hobbies. Almost everyone with a dual art field was established and famous in their field before they got going in their second. They had a following who were curious. Pick one thing and go after it with everything you've got. You can follow Marky Mark and James Franco's footsteps later.
- Your selfishness is critically myopic. Promoting your work is tough, and when you only ever ask others to promote you without returning the favor, it is never very long before they realize they're not getting anything out of the exchange. Then all you have left is the next round of enamored students who don't actually have good networking connections or established reputations.
- That long swath of failed projects that you always blame on someone else? Yeah, people are talking, and they know that the common denominator is actually you.
- You are your own worst enemy. You have the technical skill and the vision to be great, but you hold yourself back with all that doubt. Just let yourself be spectacular.
- For fucks sake, if you think you're going to be some major investigative journalist and launch a reporting career of glitz and glamour, you might not want to share Snopesable macros on your official page.
- Talent is just another word for hard work over time. Don't be elitist about some innate ability you think you have. It won't matter if don't work your ass off.
- Telling people who work for you off on social media is dreadfully unprofessional. Telling people off on social media for having the temerity to want you to pay them what you agreed to is critically vapid. (That's like a public record of how you mistreat your artists.)
- I'm sorry your life sucks, and the people in your life suck most of all, but you're way too good to give up. Please stick with it.
- We're all beggars, but most of us pass the hat once in a while not three times a day. We post on our own walls, not other people's. And stop acting like you're too good to have a day job. It won't kill you.
- If I ever become half the artist you are today, I shall consider my life well spent. It is infuriating to me sometimes that you don't see your own worth.
- There is just so, so, so much more to the industry you're trying to break into than your precious fucking S.E.O.
- Hey your passive aggressive notes aren't fooling anyone. It's obvious you're talking about me.
I'm not taking any of this personally (or am I?), but there are plenty of warnings for newbies like myself, and plenty of traps that are too easy to fall into. To paraphrase Yeats, I must tread softly, for I tread on my dreams.ReplyDelete