Standing Out but Fitting In

I just had a funny conversation with a friend and I thought it would make for good content to dive into.  I wanted to make a blog entry and I was talking through my ideas with them, figuring out what I was going to write about when there was a comment that was made that triggered me.  I’ll share it with you..


I was talking about writing about the move that’s happening in my life.  My fiance and I are moving from Fallbrook, CA to Carlsbad, CA. This moving of studio spaces has caused me to collect all my artwork that was stashed in the attic, the studio, the garage closets..  This is art from throughout my life, way back from the beginning when I was a child, through high school, through college, and after. In moving it all (There’s a ton), it brings up the question.. What do I keep?  All of it? Just the stuff that stands out? There’s keeping the art that I like for the intrinsic value of it, and then there’s keeping it all in the thinking that it might be valuable down the line in the event that I make it big as an artist (Like I’m intending on doing ; ) ).

To this I said something like, “It would be a bummer if a bunch of Picasso’s early work wasn’t preserved.”  And then my friend said something like, “Yeah, but, you’re not on the level of Picasso. Picasso was weird and funky.  You’re not that funky.” I think the point my friend was making was the common perception of artists that in order to be a top tier artist, you need to be weird and funky.  This idea triggers me.


This isn’t the first time I’ve run into this concept.  If you’ve met me, you know that I don’t appear to be the “typical” type of person that people think of when they think of an artist.  I would say that the typical view of artists is that they are strange, eccentric, outlandish, funky, weird, out there, abstract, often introverted, dark, brooding, and maybe a little crazy.  Think of Van Gogh, Picasso, Kahlo, Dali, Pollock, and Warhol.


I don’t think any of these adjectives really describe me that well, at least on the outside.  In college I occasionally got the feeling that the artists that were more like this looked at me as a sort of hack.  Because I don’t dress a certain way, or act a certain way that I’m wasn’t a “real” artist like they were. My friend was saying that I don’t really seem to dive into the “darkness” of life in the way that these other artists do.  It’s as if to be a “real” artist, one has to be an outcast. **The irony of my being an outcast from the outcasts was always sort of funny to me.


I know from art history and contemporary art that there are lots of successful artists that aren’t deranged, twisted up inside or out of balance, but the general public doesn’t know that.  To hear the thought that because I’m not that “weird” I can’t be an artist on the historical level of Picasso pissed me off. What is so valuable about negativity in art? I’m down for diving into the deep natures of reality, and I’m experimenting in how to do that more and more, but I don’t feel that I have to be “eccentric” to be valid or have my artwork be powerful.  I would say that there’s just as much beauty, poetry and power in virtues as there are in vices.


My art focuses on the lighter side of things, I admit that.  I focus on the connection and love between everything. (For example, my Life series features animal life in beautiful ways rather than showing the terrible circumstances they are facing due to humans and climate change.  Would it be more successful if I painted whales being killed by fishermen, elephants missing tusks, etc.? That’s a topic for another day.) The philosophical concepts of life in this reality are really interesting to me. I create from a space of positivity and love for what I’m doing and what I paint about.  I live my life that way as well. I want my artwork to be an agent of positive change in this world. I’m not a brooding alcoholic, I’m not going to cut my ear off, and I love people and the social aspect of life.


In the long run, I don’t think that any of this will matter.  What does it take to be an artist? The making of art. Does an artist’s art come from an authentic place in the artist’s heart and soul?  Yes? Good. That artist is a “real” artist. Everyone is unique and comes from a different time, space, circumstance, everything. In this life, we can only be who we are, trying to be anything different is the only way of doing it wrong.  Plus it’s all relative anyway! “Weird” to one person or culture would be lame and prude to another. Judgements need a perspective to judge from and against..


My intention is to make as much art from my authentic perspective as I can in my lifetime.  I hope that it’s what is needed when it’s needed and I’ll end up being a pivotal artistic voice in art history.  We’ll see how everything shakes out.


So, as Andy Warhol said, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make even more art.”


Yup.  All we can really do..