If you are an artist you may already know it. I went for many years not knowing because, as you have recently discovered, I have terrible handwriting. I grew up with a school system where intelligence and penmanship were considered linked. One of the things that was pounded into me is I would never be a writer because I couldn’t write. They were wrong. Writing, as far as a pen or pencil goes, has nothing to do with arrangement letters into sentences into paragraphs, and making them all come together in a text based dance, which convenes my passion into your mind.
It’s bold, very bold, to get a visible tattoo young, and you’ll hear it’s a bad thing. You have the right to define yourself. Hell, you have an obligation, in my opinion, to be who you are and you have an obligation to your Muse. That part of you that drives you to be creative ought to be fed, and fed well. I starved mine for longer than you’ve been alive, and only in the last seventeen years or so have I really taken it out for a spin. That may seem a long time, to you, but trust me, once you really start feeling the power within you, time is meaningless. The development of your art is your life. You would no more say, “Gee, you’ve been painting, or drawing, or creating for a very long time!” anymore than you would say, “Gee, you’ve been breathing for a very long time!”
You will meet people who look at you and tell you it’s great to have such a nice hobby but what are you going to do for a living? Never confuse the hoops you have to jump through with your ability to fly. You may have to be a bartender, or a bridge builder, or some other person to keep yourself in art supplies, but that doesn’t mean that’s who you are. You decide who that person is, and I think you’re doing pretty well.
There will come a day, and it may have come to you already, when you realize there are two different types of human beings. There are those of us who create, and there are those people who do not. Personally, I think this is in all of us, but I think it frightens some people, and I think some people cannot handle the lack of control creativity demands. Your mind, when you’re being creative, is not subject to the same boundaries that every day life demands. It’s dreaming with an end product. It’s falling into a journey. It’s deliberate madness with a passion. It’s art.
Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Take no counsel with those who refuse to share your vision. Sadly, they have chosen to surrender their entire lives to admiration of what others can do, and refuse to see it in themselves or others close to them. Listen to your inner voice when it asks you to create. Draw on napkins, draw in the sand with a stick, or whatever it is you feel like doing, and realize that each and every act of creation brings forth more. Everything you do is valuable in some way, no matter how small. Each line, each curve, each photograph is a meme in your mind that feeds on creation. Live it. Love it. Learn from it.
The way is not easy. Nothing worthwhile can be easy. The Doubters will be many, and you will be chief among them betimes. The work that has been done before you will daunt you. The genius you so love will sometimes frighten you. The same forces that drive you forward will also create voices of fear and disbelief. Do not, ever, stop. No matter how hard it becomes to see the future, remember you are already there. This time, this now, is all you have, and all you ever will have. Use it.
The true quality of any artist is not what they do, but how they do it. Serve your art well. Be true to your passion. Live your life as a snowflake, falling, spinning, reflecting light in a million different ways, and finally resting in the end, among billions of others, yet unique. The way is not easy. It will be hard. There will be times you wish you did not feel this inside of you, and you will wonder if it is worth it.
Nothing at all do I know to be so totally true, as I know it is true, when I tell you living your life as an artist is the best life you will ever have the honor to live.