Artists live in the realm of magic.
But we also live in the real world, often at the fringes of culture. It’s difficult to navigate both worlds and our unique situation gives rise to challenging questions.
How can artists live in the real world while maintaining access to magic? How can we find balance?
These are questions we all struggle with. I myself tend to err toward the side of magic. In fact, I feel that it’s an artist’s job to bring more magic into the world, to use our work to help others find magic too.
But balance is a necessary evil. Every artist must find his own way to stability. It’s part of the artist’s journey.
Create time for magic. Schedule things such as meditation, reflective walks, reading and looking at art. Woo The Muse so that when it’s time for Her to work, She’s ready.
At the same time, schedule real world tasks. Do the marketing, create the social media posts, make the phone calls and put together the proposals.
And never forget that people are more important than work, so guard your time but when a family or friend is in need, that’s where you must put your attention.
This is the dance.
Is it more important to connect with art-making or to achieve recognition?
The world won’t always get it. That’s the sad truth. If you have a financial need that demands you make money from your work, you must honor that. There’s no shame in using your creativity in service of your survival.
But if you can support yourself while only doing only work you’re interested in, by all means engage with that.
Public recognition does not determine the caliber of an artist. It determines the caliber of public recognition. Don’t confuse the two.
But don’t forget that making art is both for yourself and for the world.
Art is communication, it needs to be seen. It needs to live in the world. Art that gets shoved under the bed after creation is not art, it’s paint on canvas.
But it’s the quality of the gaze, not the number of eyeballs on your work that counts.
You might create work that exists only to be seen through the eyes of your beloved. Or maybe thousands of people on the internet. Or dozens of people in a gallery.
Who sees your work does not alter its worth as art.
Marketing is a fact of life for many working artists, it’s part of the job. But if you don’t want to sell your work, that doesn’t mean you don’t get to wear the ARTIST badge. It means you’ve chosen a different audience. Small or large, it doesn’t matter.
How can artists survive in a world that doesn’t always value our work? How do we protect our vision?
We protect our vision by valuing it ourselves, by showing the world its value instead of waiting for the world to show us.
This is where the warrior steps in. Artists are leaders, not followers. We use our craft to express our voice.
This is spiritual work, sacred work. This is important work.
This is your work.
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