[ 3 min read ]
I believe I have it in me. I feel I do and will do great things. Great by my own measure. After all that’s the only measure I have. That’s the only feeling I can rely on. My feeling that the project I’ve come up with will be worth doing.
I mean I will never know what other people (or the art world) will think of it, how it will be received etc. Plus, why should I assume that the opinion of others (always only a bunch of people) weighs more than my own opinion? Maybe they simply don’t get it (maybe they need more time)? Maybe it’s about being misunderstood, or being misunderstood sometimes (maybe the value is in being misunderstood by people)?
I’m not doing it for them, thus how they will receive it is secondary. I’m doing it mainly for myself (because I want to tell the world something, or scream something out, or ask some questions, or challenge some longstanding belief, or heal myself, or understand something) and the whole universe will be able to benefit from it by accident.
Of course when you do a public performance or when you publish a book or when you exhibit your works in a gallery or in some other public space you want others to see it.
So how can artists (or non-artists) maintain that they’re doing it for themselves?
I think we need to differentiate between the process of creating art (being alone with yourself or only with your coworkers, co-creators and coming up with ideas) and the act of making it available to people. When you create you want to express yourself, have a conversation with yourself (often about the subject that concerns most people), maybe heal yourself, so it serves you, and also the people you work with.
When you show it to people you want to share the thing with the world, see their reaction, so you also satisfy a need of your own (your need to share this idea / this art, but also to amaze, inspire, shock, send a message, and gauge people’s reaction).
But it’s never for them. And thus the aim is never to please them, so how they receive it doesn’t matter. It’s not a gift for them. Nor is it an item which should win the hearts of people if it is to sell well, like a new product you introduce to the market.
It’s something they will see but their opinion about it doesn’t matter. It’s like any other part of the universe — somehow it’s there, we can see it, we can say whether we like it or not and that’s all. Like clouds, or rocks, or volcanos. Whether we like it or not won’t matter. It wasn’t made with the purpose of pleasing our senses. Pleasing the senses of some individual who will see it, or of the majority (because in general we tend to like certain things better than others, or in general certain things tend to repel us more than others) was never the point.
Of course, we (most of us) like when people say nice things about us and our work. But since none of it was made with the purpose of pleasing art critics or other people, so that they will say nice things about us or award us some prize for our creation (if that’s the mindset an artist has), the praises, the compliments, the rewards, the accolades, they’re mere accidents. An artist makes something, it so happens that this thing is loved by an art critic, some other artist, or by the general public - it goes viral (nobody really knows how it happens, especially with unknown artists), the thing receives good reviews and doors start to open (people want it, want the access to it, want their names associated with this work / artist).