It’s not that families and friends outright say “being an artist is stupid.” Sometimes, it’s the little things that break our hearts. The lack of friends and family at major functions like art shows, plays, concerts, or poetry readings.
Sometimes, the only people in the crowd are your friends and a piece of you has to wonder if you haven’t disappointed your family.
Artists don’t need a cheerleading squad. We don’t need big signs and retellings of our greatness. (though, let’s face it. We are great). We don’t need such obvious signs of support. Sometimes, we just need a sentence, a phrase, a word…asking us how it’s going. Remembering that we had concerts or poetry readings. Asking us how the book we’ve been writing for two years is going. Being interested in what we find fulfilling. That is support.
Often times, though, it’s a sacrifice we make and we stay silent about it.
Sometimes, not being completely sane is a blessing not a sacrifice. Other times, sanity is preferred to the long hours of obsession. We don’t really choose to be artists, though some would argue that’s not true. Whatever medium we choose – writing, singing, acting – it’s a need, a craving. It’s like a drug fix, but it doesn’t hurt anyone. It gives and gives for no other reason than art wants to touch people.
So for that, yea, our realities are a little bit twisted and it’s a sacrifice we are willing to take.
No one likes to give up sleep. But, we do. On a regular basis. We give up sleep, to write or practice our talents well into the night. Then we get up the next day and carry on with whatever job we have taken to pay for our survival just to end up back at home and repeat the process all over again.
Despite the lack of sanity in many artists, the value of art is its ability to help the world stay sane when everything goes to shit. I can’t speak for every artist, but I know I speak for myself that I will give up as many nights of sleep as it takes to help one person.
A job that makes us happy
(Note: This is not a sacrifice that every single artist makes)
Often times, artists have to take on “real jobs” or “real professions” just so that they can survive while they try to make their dreams come true. What’s disgusting is the fact that many people don’t see the arts as real professions.
JK Rowling was a depressed single mother on welfare. Tina Fey worked for YMCA before she became an actor.
Artists moonlight in their various perspective careers in order to survive. Not because they like being receptionists, sales agents, marketing managers, or retail associates. But, because we need to live. It sucks. It really sucks. But, we do it anyway because we can’t NOT create our art. It’s what keeps us going.
(Note: This is situational)
Not everyone rejects the importance of art. But, society as a general group oftentimes craps on the value of art when the artist hasn’t already broken through the barrier of importance. Actors. Fashion Designers. Singers. Performers. Etc. Once you’ve reached the A-list in each perspective artistic subject, society accepts you, even reveres you. But, trying to reach that is an uphill battle and IF you reach the top, by that point you’re covered in the blood and scars from all of the sacrifices you have made. Before that, you’re nothing. You’re no one. And you’re art isn’t valuable or important.
An example of how society has rejected artists is the recent ad campaign by the national bank, Wells Fargo. Some how, some way, Wells Fargo thought it was okay to produce this ad campaign.
The funny thing is that Wells Fargo used graphic designers and models – both professions are in the arts – to make this advertising campaign.
(Note: Once again, this is situational and not always the case)
Despite the gif, I’m not talking about pats on the back. I’m talking about the fact that most artists lack comfortable cushy lives.
Highly creative people – artists – sacrifice sleep, family and friend time, sometimes vacations or simply down time because when inspiration rears it’s head, we almost always regret not jumping on it and using it to its fullest potential as soon as possible.
Artists sacrifice the comfort in knowing what the future holds. This may seem like a silly thing to sacrifice because no one truly knows what the future holds. But, the future is more stable for a bank manager or a business associate in a large corporation than it is for an artist. We ask ourselves: Will this be the last meal I have for a while? What will I do for work until I can focus on what’s important to me? How much sleep will I get before a story idea wakes me up? (And yes, story ideas and inspiration can come in the middle of the night to wake us up and it’s not so simple to just ignore it and go back to sleep. It breaks a piece inside of us to do that)
We know the unknown more than anyone else because we live and breathe it.
Our hearts lead us. To not let it lead would be to destroy the very fabric of our being. Often, though, our hearts are damaged with holes and band aids trying to hold it all together. We’re a mess. Shattered, terrible, beautiful messes.
This doesn’t mean we can never be happy or that every smile we have is fake. It simply means that in order to be able to create such beauty and light, we need to walk further into the dark than the average person.
Artists are some of the most depressed, mentally unstable people in the world. JK Rowling has suffered from depression. Edgar Allan Poe was an alcoholic. Many more authors and actors and comedians have suffered similar illnesses. Sometimes we go too far into the dark looking for the brightest spots of light there that we lose ourselves for a while, sometimes forever.
Though some may believe that art is chosen, it’s truly not. Creativity chooses the people who need it the most and most of us can’t fight it. In fact, we love it. Most of us choose not to fight it. It’s painful, but it’s beautiful too.
True artists have always suffered from self doubt. Cocky people who call themselves “artists” who say they have never suffered from such a thing are either lying or not true artists. The reason is because artists are always striving to be better, always looking for something to add, something to incorporate, something to inspire them. We are so very unsure of ourselves. The best artists, I’ve noticed, are the ones who are often the most humble and insecure.
Still, as I have noted earlier, we are not always socially accepted and people are not loners by nature. We need company, friends, others. Our lack of social acceptance adds to our lack of self acceptance. Eventually, most of us grow into somewhat strong people. Able to take on criticism and social scorn. That doesn’t erase the fact that beneath much bravado, a lot of us hurt from the pain of what others say about us. That we’re “weird” or “unstable.” How people look at us and call us “dreamers” like that’s a bad thing to be, not thinking that without “dreamers” we wouldn’t have reached the moon. We wouldn’t have created film or fireworks or all of the things that have taken over the modern world. Without us “dreamers” there would be no society.
And we are beautiful. So goddamn beautiful.