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The Ironic Contradiction of The Art World

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

Now, I know what you're probably thinking. Wren, where exactly are you going with this? I could go in several different directions with this, but I'm gonna tell you what I mean.

Everyone likes art, right? Whether it be painting, drawing, sculpture, writing, reading, dancing, acting, music, cross-stitch, etc... (I could go on forever with all the things considered art, but you get a general idea.) As humans, we are artistic people who look for beauty and inspiration in all manner of things. It gives us joy and enriches our lives for the better. Everyone (and I do mean everyone) appreciates some form of art to some degree.

Why do these people who express that they like, or even love art, do a complete 180 once you mention that you're an artist/creator? It comes up in conversation, and the next thing you know, you're getting THOSE looks. You know the ones I'm talking about. The raised eyebrow and sneer, looking down their nose with an arrogant scoff, or the complete disdain bordering on outright anger. Then come the words... "Why? That's not a REAL job." "You'll never make any money doing that, and you definitely won't get rich." "You'll never be as good as Picasso, Shakespeare, or (insert your choice famous dead artist here), so why bother?" "But what are you going to actually do with your life? Because you know you'll never get famous from it."

I feel like, with some people, there is resentment and anger on their part. That ends up getting directed to artists, especially those who really follow their dreams and don't listen to the naysayers. They didn't or couldn't follow their dreams and resent others for following theirs. I feel like with these people, the mindset of 'Misery loves company' is unmistakably obvious. They seem to be the ones who aren't content until everyone else around them is at least as miserable as they are. A sentiment I simply don't understand. There are more than enough ills in this world, so why waste time trying to make it worse when you could instead spread a little bit of joy and happiness around?

I just... I don't really follow these mindsets, like at all! In some sense, I can understand parts of it. When it comes down to it, I know a lot of artists won't be able to make a living off their art, let alone get rich from it. But here's the thing most people don't realize. Not everybody wants that or even strives for it. Some people simply want to make their art and then release it out into the world to bring joy and inspiration to others.

Why is it that to be taken seriously or applauded as an artist, you have to have achieved fame and fortune from it? Apparently, it's not a "real job" or hobby unless it's made you wealthy from it. In society's eyes, there seems to only be two extremes. Either you're a brilliant genius that produces masterpiece after masterpiece (making you exorbitantly rich)and on par with the great Masters. Or you're a talentless hack who'll never amount to anything and starve to death. No middle ground anywhere in sight.

Unfortunately, we live in a world that seems to try its best to crush the creative and artistic soul into dust beneath the weight of others' disapproval. Well, disapproval and perfectionism. This affects us as artists in different ways, whether we want it to or not. I certainly know that it affects me, though I wish it wouldn't. I feel like it ends up making me afraid to produce anything artistic. Not because I fear general disapproval but because I fear the feelings of incompetence, the anxiety of perfectionism, and disappointment in myself and the art I've produced that comes with it. Which then has a tendency to lead to horrible self-loathing and a terror of committing to actually getting anything made or completed. It can be very tough to overcome those feelings, but maybe if we all work together helping and lifting each other up, we'll have a good start. So let's get started working and spread a lot of joy and happiness around this wide world!

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