Someone commented to me that they were a bit surprised I wasn’t more disappointed that Autumn Splendor didn’t make it into the Convergence Fashion Show. I must admit that I, myself, am somewhat surprised with how little disappointment I feel about it, but basically it’s because I’ve already moved on. I’m done with Autumn Splendor; it’s out in the world now, and I’m fully engaged in working on another piece. And I’m not taking it as a judgment on the quality of my work or myself as an artist: I’m confident that I produce good work, and I’ve won enough awards by now to have faith that that confidence is not entirely misplaced. So I’m not feeling particularly bruised.
This did remind me, however, of two lovely quotes which I thought I’d pass along. The first is from Andy Warhol, who said,
Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide whether it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they’re deciding, make even more art.
and, from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet (my personal artistic bible),
You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.
I’m not an artist because my work wins prizes (although it does). I’m an artist because creating is a natural part of my being: I would create even if I were alone in a forest and would never see another person. How the rest of the world regards my work – well, it’s nice to get praise, but fundamentally it’s not why I create. My art is a physical representation of my relationship with my Muse, and that’s the one thing I couldn’t live without. The work is the reward; the rest is gravy.
Well said. Of course it’s nice to have someone admire something you’ve made, but if I only did what I thought others would approve of I would definitely produce less (and not nearly as much that I like). I make because my muse demands it, and she has little patience with mundane requirements like food and sleep. I am thankful that she is giving me a break so I can take care of a lamb who’s mother rejected him. Bottle lambs aren’t very concerned with my requirements either!
Sandra Rude says
Yep. Rainer had it right. The important ingredient is you, not others.
Lisa Dusseault says
This is one of those things that, at least for me, was really hard to know when I was young. Any criticism or lost opportunity in my work hit me very hard when I was young even though I’d also had praise and success. Self-confidence is part of it but self-reliance or self-containment is too. I’m not sure I can quite put my finger on the difference — with self-reliance I may or may not have confidence, but I don’t need it validated either way.