As an artist the most significant thing someone could say to me is that I inspire them through my work, or the expression of my particular art. The thing with that kind of validation, is that it becomes addictive. With every new expression of your art you need new validation of your ability to inspire. Art only becomes art when exchanged and shared with others, as the definition of something as art can only come from comparison and trend established in agreement with others.
To ever consider myself a lonely artist is erroneous, because in calling myself an artist at all is an adherence to an already widely accepted notion of what art is supposed to be, and realising that this is essentially a social endeavour that requires participation of more than just myself. If I the ‘artist’ do something just for me, then surely I am merely being myself as there is no art to be defined by comparison?
In calling myself an artist then, what I am saying is that I want to inspire you, and that I would like you to tell me that I inspire you with the possible added bonus that you might inspire me back. The simplest, most innate form of art I suppose is the smile. When you smile at someone, there is the expectation, the hope that they will reciprocate and smile back, thus giving you the validation of comradeship that you seek. Art in what ever form it takes, is another manifestation of the smile, even if for all intents and purposes it looks like a grimace. Any form of communication is a desire to interact and engage with others. It’s a two way street that should ideally benefit all parties involved.
As someone who identifies herself as an artist, I am acknowledging the clearly defined rules of being an artist, and to not be acknowledged as such is disappointing. Much like if I were to smile at you, but you didn’t smile back. I would assume that you didn’t like me, or at the very least that my art just did not inspire you. That in itself would make me question my own motives and perhaps drive me to improve or change my method of delivery, so that perhaps next time I would be more successful in making that all important connection.
Perhaps the key is in the timing, like a good joke who’s punchline is a killer, having maximum effect on an audience who has already bought into your act. The best smiles are the ones where you catch another off-guard, that spontaneous moment where you both connect if but for a split second, but that carry the greatest impacts and that can change the course of the day and beyond. That’s the kind of art I want to produce. If I make you smile, or make you connect with me in some way through my work, then I have succeeded, until the next fix that is. And if I can keep eliciting these kinds of responses, and possibly even make money from it, then I can consider myself a professional artist. But all it comes down to, really, is the ability to make others smile, or frown even. A response in fact is better than none. A positive one is always preferable, but even a negative one says something about my/your ability to impact the lives of others. I suppose it comes down to what we as people want personally. Who are we aiming to impress, who would we truly like to connect with, and more importantly why?
Understanding my motivation for being the artist that I believe myself to be is an intrinsic part of my art. For the most part, I enjoy all the forms of artistic expression that I engage with. First and foremost I get personal satisfaction from doing what I do. If I can then share it with others and elicit a similar response, then I’m happy. That is almost enough for me. If I could make a living from that, then that would add a new dimension to my experience as an artist, although the money will never be my prime motivation for being an artist and wanting to share my art. My prime motivation will always be wanting to make you smile, and thus validating that my smile was worth every muscle and ounce of dopamine too.
9 thoughts on “Final thoughts for the day – 8-9 October 2014: Dopamine Addicts”
This is well-stated and very much on point. The point of the art isn’t really personal validation, for one needs to get that from oneself. Neither can it be financial reward, if only due to the fact that the “business” of art is too complex to be depended on for such reward. Then, we could all pretend what many of us (underachieving) artists say is true–that just producing the art is its own reward. Yeah, and smiling at yourself in the mirror is its own reward too.
I think you captured it perfectly. The real joy is in inspiring someone–making them smile, or cry, or think, or god forbid, do or be. That in turns fuels our external artists’ engines and the cycle restarts. Now, I’m sure there are enough introverted artists who don’t need the direct feedback, but even those like wandering in the back of their gallery, or seated in the back of the movie theater and finding that others get their work.
The art is part of us, but not fully us, just like characters we create become their own entities. My photos are my eyes, and my books are my babies. Everyone secretly wants people to smile at their babies, even if they are a tad ugly.
Reblogged this on This Blog Intentionally Blank and commented:
Part 2: Is Art Its Own Reward?
A comment on one aspect of your post, M.: There are smiles reflected back in genuine appreciation and there are the pasted-on Woody Allen smiles – smiles that are responses as expected, but not really genuine. I would say that being an artist is to bring something that the artists understand up to the surface, beyond the surface and reach another person with some kind of reaction. There are other artists who are manipulators. Those who know how to elicit a particular response from people without exposing their own views or their own truths. I remember you had a nice take on ‘the truth’, in an earlier post, M. I think truth must be involved in art or else it is merely Madison Avenue.
Thank you for setting down your ideas.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jack. You are quite right of course. Genuine smiles tend to be those that are spontaneous. There are artists who are out to manipulate, the kind employed by advertising agencies spring to mind, where art masquerades as truth, and smiles are indeed disingenuous.
What we artists seek is that emotive response from others that validates our own personal motivations and sentiments. It can be a difficult task though, and not everyone will respond in kind.If truth is about validity, then yes I agree.
I think Maria you are amazing, bold, and wonderfully talked and you expression and your passion is inspiring! It always has been! 😄💗huge hugs
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Hi sweet lady. You are always so generous with your love and compliments MM. Lovely to see you, and thank you for gracing my blog with your wonderful presence. I hope life is treating you well my friend. Huge hugs to you too! xxx
You look like your dad in that 2nd shot.
I suppose i do.