What is a myth, and what does it have to do with your art career?
There are two definitions of myth:
- one definition is that a myth is a well known story.
- The other is a bit more antagonistic: it is a widely held belief that is untrue.
It is the latter that the Twelve Artist Myths focuses on.
In the post-modern culture we now find ourselves in, the circle of all creative professions has blossomed into an age never before known. Thanks to technology we can hold in our hand, never has there been a better time to distribute one’s craft to the world.
Also thanks to that same technology, never before has there been more opportunity for collaboration, personal growth, influence, and learning. One might say that it is the second renaissance, a distant but even more powerful aftershock of the first. While the first cultural rebirth was sped along with the help of Roman roads and Gutenberg’s invention, this one is born out on fiber optic cables and unseen radio waves. So, a positive thinking person may say that there has never been a better time to call art your profession.
However, many artists are still held back from achieving their full creative, personal, and financial potential.
I believe the answer isn’t in the halls of blinking lights attached to lifeless silicon pillars powering the search engine that may have brought you to this very place.
I think the answer lies within, deep down in the soul of every creative individual, whether they make a living from their craft or not.
Because why we do what we do tends to be handed down, inherited from everything we feel around us, coming down on endless vibrations like those a spider feels through its web. But lacking the agility of the spider, we quickly find ourselves tied up in that same web with strings wrapped around our limbs, making us dance like puppets.
Is the work of the artist, then, to open up to all things, flood the senses, and regurgitate it back out as quickly as possible, with very little personal reflection?
Or is it the opposite, to completely shut off, to leave the web, and retreat to a monk-like existence off the grid, and only rely on one’s own little trickle of inspiration fed by no one else?
And here we arrive at one of the fundamental discordant traits of all artists; the contrast of solitude versus community, individualism versus collaboration. While we may spend many hours alone at our craft, we also get lonely. So we must always seek a balance between the two so that we can have the best of both – by paring our social interactions down to the ones that matter the most, and by making sure that the time we spend making art is spent in earnest.
The Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, comes to mind: we can cut out most of that which wastes our time, so that we can focus more on what matters in both aspects of our life.
The Artist Myths are characteristic of that waste – they are the flotsam that drags us down into the sea.
When we need to produce, they are there, waiting, to hinder our progress. When it’s time to share our work, there they are, ready to whisper in our ears that we’re not good enough, and that nobody will notice us or care what we have to say. And since we have inherited these myths, like some generational disease, unless we take steps to eradicate their influence in our lives they will destroy our creativity, steal our joy, and turn our studio into a storage unit.
So this is why an artist could do well to spend a healthy amount of effort examining these myths… because learning about something is the first step in destroying it.
On first hearing of these myths, there will be a period like an awakening… a general fuzziness and inability to grasp the situation. There may even be a resistance, because change is often scary. There will be discomfort, because swimming down deep into the recesses of our subconscious to dredge things out is not the material of a fun vacation.
But I guarantee that it will be worth it.
And once freed of the myths that have been holding you back, you will experience a freedom like you’ve never felt before. You will give yourself permission to be the creative person that you always were meant to become. You will feel a passion for productivity that you didn’t know you had, and you will relish its aftermath, something that people who don’t make things will never understand… the joy of boundless creativity.
And at our best, as artists, we are little creators… pinpoints of light that never go dark, because our work outlives us – and while it may dim, it will never go away completely. So read on, brave artist-adventurer… and don’t ever be afraid to strip away the darkness that keeps you from burning brightly.
12 Artist Myths
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