My dad had a saying, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I still call upon that from time to time, like when I get a case of the ‘whinies’ because IT ALL JUST SEEMS TOO HARD. Then I am forced to remember some of the jobs I’ve had just to earn what passed for a living. Then it’s one big shudder and back to work. And work is good.
There’s a great deal more to the artful life than the process of creation. As I’ve said before, if your business is art, then you are required to do all that any independent business person is called upon to do: marketing, advertising, shipping, research, correspondence, bookkeeping, record keeping, supply-keeping, time management, ick-cetera. But the actual creative process? That’s the juice of life for an artist. And if all that other stuff is what gets you there, then it’s all worth it. Besides, if you give it the good old ‘all-you’ve-got,’ pay them their dues, you should be able to reach the glorious day when you can hire people to do the things that keep you away from your true love: the creative process.
So here’s the question, are you being true to your love? I worry about artists who worry about what the market is calling for. Great art is always what the market calls for, and great art can only come from love. Paint what you truly love (or sculpt or carve or photograph) and the passion you feel will reveal itself in your work. Paint (or sculpt or carve or photograph) something merely because you think it’s sellable, and that insincerity will scream from the product. Sincerity is as necessary to great art as any any technical skill. It can be a struggle (don’t I know it!) to maintain your sincerity in a commercial endeavor so it’s important to be alert for weaknesses in your motives; it can also be too easy to lose touch with what really fires your passion. Temptation is everywhere. So from time to time you may find it necessary to reach across your life, clear away the clutter, and focus once again on what you love, what excites passion in you when nobody’s looking. The further back you search – the things that thrilled you as a child – the more helpful. Because the joys of youth are honest, are sincere, and are always a part of you. You just have to know where to look. Me? I’m going to the beach, even though it’s raining.