Sunday, June 22, 2008

The hardest word

...Is not "sorry." It's not even "thank you." It's "congratulations."

I don't make my living being an artist but I consider myself to be creative. And I spent four years studying fine art at a small liberal arts college so I'd like to think my $130k wasn't spent completely in vain. But it's not where I typically look for success. In fact, up until recently, I didn't put much stock in creating work regularly, let alone pursuing opportunities to show or sell. Sure, there were plenty more "serious" art students who worked alongside me, painstakingly trying to capture the sag of a 70 year old's backside, reproducing famous works of the masters and trying to stay awake as the slow click of the slide projector advanced through 500 years of art history. And some of them even enjoyed a modicum of success in the form of a professor's praise or spots in the student shows. But seven years later, at least a few of my classmates are enjoying a whole different kind of success.

One former art classmate has sold a number of paintings for well over a $1,000.00 a piece. $1,000.00. ...Apart from being 10 times $100.00 (holy crap), that's also almost one month's rent. One. Month. Another former fellow resident assistant is coming out with a book in a couple of months. A book! With pages! And when I read this online I kind of wanted to throw up in my hand. I wanted to scoff out loud, make all kinds of justifications and blow it off as some sort of fluke.

What the hell?

I remind myself at this point that I don't ever need to be famous. Then I also remind myself that the pressure of having to make a living on my creative work would likely drive me insane. And despite that I still feel like it must be a mistake that someone wants to buy a bunch of crappy abstract corporate art or pay to read a bunch of personal development affirmations.

Should I ask it again? ...What the hell is my problem?

The reason I bring this up is not to convince you I'm a petty, jealous, insufferable brat (though admittedly I'd be convinced at this point). The thing is I know I'm not the only person out there who has a hard time swallowing their peers' achievements. I know I'm not the only one who actually feels less successful when confronted with other's success. I've read "Art & Fear." I even tried to read it a second time (though it's a bit too touchy-feely in tone, I actually liked it quite a bit). I've consulted my husband, family and professional mentors. And the best thing I can come up with at this point, is that I have to fake until I make it. I need to get into a habit of applauding the successes of my peers... even if I don't understand why I haven't achieved an iota of the same. Because it's not as simple as I'd like it to be. And feeling like crap is really only so much fun.

So I'm gonna say it. I'm gonna put it out there on the webernets for anyone and everyone to see. Loud and clear.


...And you know they cache this crap so there's no way I can take it back.

No comments: