Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Success Is Not Relative

cliché trigger warning:

Or is it?

I wrote that because I like using the 'e' with the accent mark. I think it looks cool.

So here's the mandatory link to the article: Dear Art Director: I Am A Working Artist, and here's the gist of this would-be Rembrandt's thinly veiled rant against the world in general:

I'm a 35-year-old working artist and the world has not recognized me as the next Pablo Picasso. I'm depressed, jealous and whiny. Please help by giving me five minutes of fame!

Paraphrased by yours truly, of course.

Whomever is catching for the Dear Art Director site gives a decent enough reply, I suppose, but it needs to be sharpened up a bit and tempered with gin. Here's my own response.

The kind of fame and fortune you're looking for happens to the sui generis, often outré person whose talent is usually accompanied by mental illness and a lifestyle that would make any normal person consider suicide as a viable alternative. You really want that kind of suffering in your life?  Moreover, many of these people live in poverty and obscurity their entire lives and are 'discovered' either at or near the end of their life by a host of self-styled art critics, all of whom are the product of some infamous left wing university and none of whom could tell the difference between real art and an Inuit whale blubber cup on the best day they ever had. Yet you crave their approval.

For my sins, I teach ballroom dancing. These days I'm too old and busted up to actually dance half of what I remember, but at one time I wasn't too shabby when measured by the professional yardstick. My point here is that I'd often have people come up to me, compliment me on my dancing and remark, "I'd give anything to dance like you!", and that just isn't true. If they did, they'd be working the kind of hours I worked (horrendous) and beating themselves up because they couldn't dance a right side spin. You, the envious undiscovered talent, see some tiny fraction of one percent of these people's lives, and it's that fraction, that tiny fraction, that you're after. You don't see the price you have to pay.

Consider the ubiquitous rock and roll star. I always wanted to be a rock star, kind of like The Beatles. But that would necessitate learning to play the guitar, which required more than 30 minutes a week, so I (wisely) gave up the whole business as a bad deal. My point? Don't envy that which you truly do not understand, and don't set unrealistic expectations for yourself.

My own advice to the working artist in question is to keep producing art. If you write, keep writing. If you're a musician, keep playing. Take advantage of the breaks as they come along and stop complaining that just because you want the big time some million or so people haven't happened by and laid it all on you.

As for me, I've got work to do.


  1. Great advice. Unfortunately for a painter or fine arts type person, their works are very often raised in appreciation when they are dead. Thus, we have to get real jobs and dream about being a Van Gogh without the crazy. Mwah! Keep writing, WL Emery!

    1. Thanks Momma Fargo. Have I told you that you're truly beautiful lately?