Recently, I have had a lot of experiences with artists/art of all sorts… from contemporary painters and sculptors to mixed media moguls and performance artists. I have also had some run-ins with artists famed in the popular arts, better known as celebrities. [Comic-Con, anyone? Don’t worry, that post is on its way.]
As I’ve said before, my ideal self is an artist. I like to think I’m striving to become my ideal self. What I have been dwelling upon is the sheer fanaticism that comes along with knowing and identifying so closely with someone’s artwork, be it a painting or a television show. When I meet an artist whose work I admire, I find myself starstruck… unable to express anything but sheer gratitude for one’s creations. Shame on me, I would think to myself, that someone’s celebrity would leave me speechless… after all, they are human beings who just happen to be famous.
But upon further reflection, I realize why these encounters have left me in awe. Consuming these artists’ works and really allowing myself to become a fan awakens something inside me. Call it “inspiration.” I used to think it silly to be obsessed with movie and television stars–when we meet them, they are not the characters they play onscreen. Yet to see them in real life and understand their humanity can be a life-changing experience. We fall in love with these characters because we see a piece of ourselves within them [something we want to be or something we wish we weren’t] and we are made vulnerable by that. So many characters who do not exist define our generation, just as many pieces of art will go unseen by the masses and still be equally definitive of what it means to live in this time period.
No matter what artform is your chosen poison, by all means consume it. Be it food, medicine, music, visual media, anything… go out there and grab it. If is stirs your soul and challenges you to think differently or be more creative, surely it must be meant for you. And when you meet the artist behind the work, fangirl all you want. Just remember that the artwork disturbs you for a reason. Do the artists a solid by finding that reason. If you binge-watch serialized TV shows or museum-hop every weekend, find out what exactly it is that keeps you coming back for more. It is a huge injustice to artists of all forms to tell them their work is “good” without ever knowing what stands out about it and the effort that went into making it great.
Would you tell this man his work is “good” and just leave it at that?