If Art Is in your Heart, Don't Be Afraid to Share Your Art with the World
I recently talked with a young person, despairing and ready to give up, because the art they wanted to create hadn’t come to fruition yet and they were already over thirty. I also talked with a nearly-retired person, despairing that the opportunity to create art had passed them by.
To both, I said: “Nonsense!”
Really, their biggest fear isn’t that they won’t be able to produce art. Of course they can. What folks really fear is that, even if they pursue the creation of their art, it won’t be “good.” For most people, “good” means recognized with celebrity, awards, and big bucks.
That kind of success is possible. Through practice, perseverance, and little bit of luck, both of my friends could hit it big. But “big” doesn’t happen very often. That’s part of what makes it so special. We daydream about that rare pinnacle, but the cold reality is that the odds are against reaching it.
Hence, the despair, which, as I said, is nonsense.
A few decades ago, I was pursuing an arts degree. My concentration was painting, but I was required to take classes in other media. I wound up taking pottery classes. I was not a natural, although I enjoyed it very much. More significantly, I found the studio community to be friendly and nurturing and it was there that I learned a very important lesson about creating art.
A competition show was coming up and I was just not getting the hang of throwing clay on a wheel. My professor suggested I work on hand-building projects instead. So I did. Some pieces had holes and wrinkles. Some pieces were flocked and velvety. I submitted a display of my “Hardly Functional Pottery” and won an award.
I don’t know where those pieces are now. Maybe in a box somewhere. They just don't fit into my daily life. What I do keep nearby are mugs made by my fellow potters all those years ago. Not because they won any awards, but because I use them regularly. And every time I hold one of them in my hand, I enjoy the color, the shape, the way it feels.
When you think about films, books, and other expressions of art, many of the award-winners and the critic-favorites don’t enjoy popular appeal. We can appreciate them, but we don’t necessarily like them.
Art-With-A-Capital-A has a place in the world, but so does small-a art. We artists should take pride in giving pleasure and inspiration, even within a more intimate circle. Rather than “good,” we should strive to be “better.” And keep reminding ourselves that our art is worth the creating and worth the sharing.
Find joy in being the mug.
Photo by lil artsy