I ran across this post today here on Deviantart: tompreston.deviantart.com/jour… . Some of the videos and links invoked inspired me to discuss the creative process. And negativity.
From time to time, I think I am very lucky in that my existence is caught up in what I do. I write, because I can't not write. And I draw for the same reason. Other people, apparently, are not this lucky. So I guess this journal is for them. Anyone who has ever doubted, anyone who believes they are a hack, anyone who believes that creativity done right flows all the time and never, ever stops (that's crap, by the way.) And, perhaps most importantly, that the Internet is the end, all be all of Art.
I personally have a difficult time doing everything the Internet demands. I have difficulty with Twitter, I'm lousy at my Facebook, and my account here on DA is probably the only thing that I check consistently. But, that's because I have a life. I have a project that I'm working on pretty much all the time, a dog that has to be walked, and most of my down time I choose to be focused on what I want to do, rather than the latest bit of Internet. The Internet is the most powerful tool of communication we've ever created. It also shows the worst of humanity way more often than it should.
I heard a parable once about living a life: that your life is an empty jar, and you can choose to fill it with rocks or sand. The rocks are the major, important things: your goals, your dreams, your relationships, your career. The sand is all the other minutiae: day to day crap, drama, going to the grocery store, and so on. You can fill a jar with sand, but if you do there's no room for the rocks. That's why you put the rocks in first. The sand fills up the spaces and the cracks in between.
So, when I see people talk about being afraid to create new content, because they are afraid of what the howling mobs on the Internet will think of them: all I can think of is that these people have filled their jars with sand.
I've noticed a phenomenon that suggests that art is meant to be social. It's a social event. You draw with friends, so you don't get bored. You draw with an audience, so your self-confidence can be propped up. You draw with a class so you can stick to a schedule. Art, for whatever reason, has become about less about focus, about introspection, about the journey to the truth that lies at the core of every human life. Art seems to be moving away from its traditional role of criticizing and critiquing society, breaking new roads and giving new insights to its culture, and moving in to the mainstream cry of "Please accept me!"
I've got news for you, folks. Artists have always been lonely. We might make connections, but we belong to a world that demands us as individuals, more alone than regular people. Because if we're not alone, the process suffers. Art suffers. Art is not about being accepted. It's about creating something new, something that hasn't been there before. A new voice, a new perspective, even a new emotion or a new awareness. And, yeah, we're damn brave for what we do. Because we do it more alone than anyone else. We're more alone then athletes, surgeons, engineers, and the idiots who do nothing with their lives but watch reality TV and post mean comments about your painting.
A lot of what these people seem to be whining about is that the Internet is a toxic place for feedback.
At the risk of sounding facetious: well, duh.
Philistines have always been the bane of the artist. Marcel Duchampe's Nude Descending Staircase was unveiled to scathing ridicule. Michelangelo's health was ruined by the Sistine Chapel. Art is easier and more accessible than ever, and these people want to complain when Michelangelo painted 5000 square feet of frescos? If Art is not worth sacrificing for, it's less meaningful than you think it is.
And, yes, that means suffering the slings and arrows of people who 'just don't get it'. Who the hell cares?
I can assure you that Da Vinci was not asking the peasants on the street what they thought of his work. If he was asking anybody, he was asking other master painters. I don't care what the latest angry 11-year-old has to say about my critique of how to design wolf characters. A) They don't know what they're talking about because they're laughably lacking in experience, and B) they don't have to listen to anything I have to say.
I draw for myself. I write for myself. And anytime I feel like I'm getting a little bit too big for my britches, I go to a used bookstore, and look at how many other novelists ended up there. Because odds are, I will, too. I'm probably not going to be the next J. K. Rowling. But, at the end of the day, I'll be satisfied with myself, what I had to say, and how I chose to say it. On my own terms. Because that's what being an artist is about.
We might be more alone, but we have the most freedom of any other existence. Our identity is the envy of everyone else in their most secret hearts. Cherish that. Especially the next time somebody tries to shit all over your creation. Yeah, yeah, we all want to be accepted and all that, but no matter what, we are all "unutterably alone." You might as well have fun with it while you're here.
To everyone too scared to create: go back to the center. Go back to being alone. The Internet will be waiting for you when you get back. In all its stupid, burping, loud, obnoxious glory. The Internet should not define you. Your artistic vision should. And if you've lost sight of that, that's why your fear has gotten the better of you.
Art. What else matters?