“It’s not your responsibility to get people to like your creative pursuits.”
Somewhere along the line I figured this out.There are some artists who start their careers out knowing this intuitively and off they go following their bliss. Since I came into art sort of sideways, without all that critique prep you get in art school, I started with a fairly distinct need to please with my creative output. Also I did want to sell it, so I had to pay pretty close attention to what people wanted to buy.
However as the years passed and my artistic vision clarified I began to tap into a unique expressive voice in the various media I use. My style became more and more distinct. At first I was compared a lot to Nashville born artist named Red Grooms and of course the Dr. Suess parallels came with the colorful cartoony territory of my work.
I discovered that in order to access one’s most distinctive artistic voice you have to delve into your creative gifts relentlessly, seeking your own spin. Doing so doesn’t always connect with the outside observer.
What you find — because it’s going to be different — might well not be in fashion, unless you’re lucky enough to tie into the current creative zeitgeist. That does happen. Matter of fact commercial designers tap into that as much as they can!
People Don’t Buy What They Don’t Understand
Artists, though, often find they’re well ahead of the curve more often than not. Artists are forever cutting new paths into the undergrowth of the rain forests of collective human experience. This means our output can be decidedly non-commercial. It may Speak The Truth but we may not be able to sell it. Or even give it away! At least not until society catches up with our thinking.
Ok, so my work is cartoony and colorful and you may not know this but it’s also very spiritually deep. I probably sell it because of its catchy whimsy but I make it because I have some messages I want to pass along. I’m on a deliberate Mission to inspirit that which often goes unnoticed. Things have Life and Faces because I think Life and Beingness infuse every thing in our universe. And on and on – outward and inward with all of that. For me it is about Connectedness – and my work reflects that in a very upbeat way.
Make ‘Em Smile
I used to think the Mission of my art was “to make people smile”. But it turned out there are two things wrong with that statement:
- Make = force and that’s not what I’m about
- Actually whether or not someone smiles is not my responsibility.
Help ‘Em Smile
So it evolved to become “to help people smile”. Getting better, but I’m still holding myself somewhat responsible for the reactions of others and opens up too much opportunity for failure.
Give ‘Em a Reason to Smile
So now it’s: “to allow people to smile.”. You know, to provide a reason. This does a couple of things, frees me up and gets people to be responsible for their own reactions which I think also empowers them completely independent of anything I’m doing. Their experience with my art belongs just to them – I make no claims upon it.
This allows me then to remove potential non-smilers from my fundamental source creative process, which keeps me unencumbered by others’ potential negative reactions so I can blithely explore ever deeper my unique artistic vision!
Then Ignore It
Yep, I actually had to go through this whole thing to get to the point where some creatives are lucky enough to start – I had to figure out how to not let outside opinion influence what I do. Also, this means in fairness I also have to let roll off all praise, and even those smiles too. If I don’t claim the negative, then I likewise shouldn’t claim the positive. I have to embrace the is-ness of the whole thing because that’s where the purest messages come from for me.
This is About YOU!
Experience has shown me that the truer I am to my own Vision the better my work gets. People can sense this. They sense the value in this. I think many are themselves inspired by my example. I demonstrate how you can find your own Voice with whatever you’re doing so it is deeply meaningful to you and as a natural offshoot to those who observe what you’re up to!