It’s been some time since I’ve contributed to this mess, and even longer since I returned to my bread and butter: the world of art, and the state of the artist.
What made me jump from the little political tangent I had ventured off on was a conversation I’d had with a friend of mine. We were discussing various projects, and the help we’d need in completing them. But, the conversation veered, and I couldn’t help but think of what it meant to get ‘help’ from my friends; what it meant to have my fiction, or screenplays, edited by people who are vying for attention from the same editors as I am.
For the longest time, when my work passed through the hands of my friends, there was never a, well done or even the thinest morsel of positivity to know that I was doing something of any value. Instead, what I received was an endless stream of negativity, of all of the things that could be better, so at the end of it, I had, in the eyes of these friends, created something that mimicked their own work, rather than my own.
This could say something about my friends, but I feel it speaks of a larger issue, something prevalent in the artist community, and particularly one on the fringes, among people who are trying to wedge themselves into the center of the fray.
We learn early on that all is fair in love and war, but what about art? Having created a few things in my day, I understand the sacrifice one endures to create something. It’s a personal exploration, delving into the deepest regions of our hopes, dreams, etc. And, it’s only those that do it who relate, and not poke fun at the idea of art being a sacrifice. It’s a solitary, soul destroying route, and an unfortunate choice for any human being to endeavor. Any relationship you venture to be a part of will suffer, in some facet, because your first passion will forever be art, though you may never admit the fact. Nothing in this world will ever hold the weight art does in the artist’s mind.
Because of that, it’s impossible to fault the person who goes to great lengths to be successful in the field, the endless stream of rejection often becomes more than a person can bear. But, it’s not productive. There is too much competition between artists, and that causes situations like the one I recently endured; the sense of competition is so rampant that it can cause people I care about dearly, whose opinions I cherish, to berate my work with such ferocity.
There is almost the sense that you can’t make it without degrading someone else’s work; you need to weed out all of the people who could potentially take a commission you might have wanted, and the only way to do that is to make their work seem trivial, and subsequently make the person feel small.
The reality is, I know I’m not the only person to experience this, however I fear that most have come to expect degradation as part of the ritual of sharing work, so as not to think twice about it when it occurs.
I know some might suggest I toughen up and not be so sensitive, but I feel that is merely accepting an unnecessary fate. Would we, and did we, expect that from the Libyans, as they ousted Gaddafi from power? Are angry people in the U.S. giving up on their fight for equality, despite having been thwarted repeatedly? I’m not trying to compare the likes, but there is a relativity present that links injustice, and general malice towards other, like-minded humans.
The bottom line is, we, as artists, are swimming in the same angry sea, so why not help those who might be floundering, rather than seeing someone in your field as a potential threat. It’s the start we need to turn this world around, because finding comfort in the things we love can only stand to help the things we don’t.