As artists, it is an unfortunate understanding that our job is to create without the guarantee of reward. So what drives us to continue down our path? Proving something? Naïveté? Our wildest dreams? In this podcast, 10 artists share what makes them tick.
Find Your Center
Art can help us with self-reflection. In losing ourselves or in releasing ourselves. Vulnerability is a huge part of what we do and, in order to reach our full potential, we often have to take off those masks and strip down that armor in order to present our art to the world. This can take a lifetime to do and, in many ways, we’re never going to perfect it. But that challenge is what keeps many people moving forward.
Robin says she loves being on stage and losing herself in a character. And she says even if there is the stress and fear of rejection, if you love something you are happy when you are doing it, even though it’s hard.
Laura says “I’m a full time musician because when I’m a full-time anything else, I feel like half a person. I need to create to feel whole.”
And Jenni wrote in saying “Why do I write? Why do you breath? I write because I have to. In my characters I can be whoever I want to be, say whatever I want to say, and do whatever I want to do…..and suffer zero repercussions for my actions. Besides, when people piss me off, I kill them in literature.”
Cecilia follows up with “For me its about emotional stability. I have demons to purge. Unnameable hell spawn that have carved out an aching emptiness within me. It’s a void that can only be fillled by the sense of belonging, of simple human connection, that comes from creating and sharing. The ability to touch someone with a willingly offered piece of myself alleviates the numb and swollen mind that restricts my access to feeling alive. I read once that artists create to be loved. Maybe so. Maybe also to feel understood. To understand their own feelings. Maybe all three and probably even more that I can’t force myself to identify, all swirled together like an ill blended overly organic smoothie. All I truly know, is that when someone tells me they got something from something I did, I am uncharacteristically, deliriously happy. Rejection hurts. Often devastates. But there’s always another chance if I keep making. And even when I’ve given up on almost everything else in life, I can still hold onto the enjoyment, amusement and pride my work itself brings me. If no one else will, I’ll still smile when I look at what I’ve done. That may make me sound self centered, but I’m the only center I have and I need to keep it aligned and stable.”
We’re all a little Baron Munchausen
Artists are passionate people who envision the world at a grand scale. We must in order to understand what we are creating and how we fit into the story. But even an artist who is generally well rounded in other parts of her life will often have addictive tendencies and some delusions when it comes to artistic possibilities.
Dave says that, while he is not a gambler or risk taker, he is drawn like a lottery card player to every creative opportunity because he’s afraid that the next opportunity might be THE BIG ONE and that there is someone else, just as hungry, right behind him to take his spot. So many people wrote in echoing his sentiment that, even if an opportunity doesn’t pan out, it’s still important to take it because that might lead to future work in some form or another.
Drew wrote in saying “For me, it’s definitely delusions of grandeur. I have pretty lofty goals for myself as a costume designer. The possibility of “what if” is something that is strong fuel for me. What if I do this show, what if there is a film producer in the audience, what if she/he loves my creations, what if I get a union gig, what if I get nominated, what if I win an Oscar… Most of this is unrealistic, but I love dreaming – it is what we do best! Passion keeps me alive. But I’m consistently slammed back into reality. Why in fact, just today my dreams were dashed. I’ve put some time in at a local theater that I thought was aware of my career goals; and just learned that I wasn’t even considered for a design job that I thought I’d for sure be in the running for. It’s clearly never safe to assume, but it did leave me heartbroken. It made me realize I need to step up and speak out if I want something.
Change The World
The next stories are from artists who feel most inspired, most driven, when they do it for others. When they can bring happiness or honor someone in their lives. When they in turn can inspire others and bring some light to their day.
Jarod says “if you look across the scope of the jobs I’ve held before, whether it being working in neonatal intensive care or coaching high school football, I’ve always done it because of what I thought I could offer others. It fuels me. Art does that, whether it is through music or acting, I do it because I find the most joy in my life from bringing happiness to others.”
Tim wrote “I teach and direct students. I live my dream through them. Seeing them succeed fills that space inside me that rejection created.” (I asked if he prepared his students for the real world of rejection or tried to focus on the positive. He said…) “Schools teach ‘No child left behind.’ However in the world of acting, only one is ‘chosen’ to succeed. I do teach from a conservatory and teach them the merits of hard work and preparation, calling them in at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning to ‘work.’ We rarely get a Saturday off.
Kenneth says he does it for family and pride. “The true sense of who we are as people is how well we get back up after being knocked down. And happiness is having something or someone to look forward to.”
Our final story comes from CJ who has a podcast and actually called in to tell his story. He’s been a creative type his whole life and he wanted to share what his art means to him and is family.
Lastly… read this, believe this, and live this.
Thanks for Listening!
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