Before touching on the touchy subject of studio etiquette in my last post, I posited the following question:
Would I create art if I knew it would never see the light of day? If there were no possibility the work would lead to a deeper connection with others? Doubtful.
Still, for me, the impetus for creating is like the desire to witness a gorgeous scenic vista with others.
Something about the shared connection between two or more hearts is similarly quite central to the creative drive.
I wonder if it has more to do with the category of art one gravitates toward. Are there any who practice the performing arts – actors, musicians, and the like – who don’t desire for their creative efforts to be seen or heard, whether or not they never get over stage fright? (I think this subject’s on my mind a bit because, two days ago, after writing my ABBA-centric post, I thought about the break up of that Swedish pop group. What must it have been like, I wonder, for Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid to go from red-hot stars to uber-private individuals?)
But back to the visual arts: a friend once shared a concern with me that many young artists – perhaps those in the first ten to fifteen years of “social media life”, say, seem to have a need to put everything they’re doing out there on Facebook or Instagram. They’ve an addiction, he thinks, to others’ approval that might be shortcutting their own critical abilities. And make no doubt about it, there typically needs to be many years of skills development in the arts before one can, or should, allow their work to be viewed as mature.
My response was, frankly, indifferent, if not a bit heartless. To me, if someone’s creative work in the visual arena can’t be sustained without constant pats on the back, it ultimately shouldn’t be.
Speaking of hearts, however, I admit that there are times when I’m making a concerted effort to connect with others – i.e., to receive “hearts”, “likes”, and the like, on social media platforms. (Currently, it’s a requirement of sorts, with a public art project commencing. There’s a public outreach component of the project. Hence, I’ve been stirring the pot, posting more regularly on Instagram and Facebook in advance of the piece’s creation. I’m using this platform to hopefully create a greater interest in the piece than might otherwise exist.)
After all, artists, if they’re serious about selling their work, must market it somehow. Two primary paths are to either pay someone else – a commercial gallery, say, to do so for them, or to do so themselves, perhaps selling work directly out of their studio and/or online, via any number of websites. Most artists I know employ a combination of the two.
Yet as much as I’d like to explain away my at times ample online presence to the artist’s need to market, or self-promote, in the digital age, I can’t. Not in total. To a degree, my participation on social media websites, times I’m making the effort, has undoubtedly unlocked literal doors for me. It’s strengthened connections with others in my field. Its created an audience.
Despite all that, times I do take extended breaks from blogging and posting and commenting on others’ posts have also been good for me. Kind of like a toxic cleanse.
At the very least, it allows me to catch up on some shut eye.
But as I wrap things up at 4:36 am in the hopes of doing the same before my “day shift”, I’ll circle back with the contention that without an audience, be it ever so modest, both in terms of size and in regards to the nearly universal penchant for you, my dear reader, to reach out and respond to me in kind (not that I have the time and energy for such connections these days), I’m 100% sure I wouldn’t be waking and writing on a nearly daily basis.
Likewise, without the belief that others would sooner or later be viewing the fruits of my studio practice, I really don’t think I’d darken the studio door for very long, either.
Might as well face it, I’m addicted to love. At least influenced by it.