I have been watching a disrespectful debate largely in silence for long enough. Scratch that. It’s not accurate to call it a debate. It’s more like shots fired over the bow in social media postings, passing comments, and blogs with the intention to diminish others who make a different but equally difficult choice.
The subject? The privilege of calling oneself an artist.
Here’s what I’ve seen lately:
People who do work mainstream jobs and who have more financial resources to create not showing deference for the sacrifices that someone without the stability of a regular income is making to pursue his/her art.
People who do not work mainstream jobs and who have more freedom to create not showing deference for the sacrifices involved with trying to create with limited time and energy after working that mainstream job.
People asserting themselves as “real” artists because they choose not to work safety or mainstream jobs; and criticizing those who do work those jobs for not being devoted enough to call themselves legitimate.
People who came to know their desire to create late in life, after certain obligations were established, being afraid to share the fruits of their creative effort because they are belittled as hobbyists or amateurs.
Dare I say it? Please just cut the shit already because when we behave this way everyone loses.
I live in an in between world. I work many hours in a high tech job. I came to know my creative spirit very late in life. I am also up by 4am to write nearly every day. I create more than many who make creating their full time vocation. And less than some who devote barely any time at all. My creations are different and beautiful ~ mostly writing these days; sometimes photography. So are theirs ~ of every sort. And every bit of it lends itself to the texture of life around all of us.
So, with as much respect as I can muster for those who behave this way, please stop stuffing art into a container that suits your definition.
Who are you to define pursuit? Who are you to claim that you can begin to understand the constraints or desires another may have? Who are you to say that one form, shape, size, practice, color, sound is ‘real’ art over another? Who are you to define what will touch another human being? What matters? What is? What is art? Who are you to say what another is or is not? Who exactly are you?
Each of us has the privilege (and I would argue, responsibility) of expressing ourselves. And each of us should hold the expectation that our creation will be honored. If we are treated with any less respect than this we should also remember that is a reflection of the insecurity (or possibly arrogance) of the one who casts judgment rather than a reflection of our vision or talent.
If one is genuinely pursuing creation within the means available to him/her with courage, an open heart and the desire to share it with others...then he/she is an artist. Period.
And with that ... 4am comes again soon.