I was 27 years old before I had the courage to call myself an artist. While I had been making things for many years, I never felt deserving of the title. Artists did something different, something beyond what I was doing.
For most artists, a project starts as an obsession that grips every waking thought, even seeping into dreams. It is an all consuming, exciting experience, often followed by an equally consuming period of disgust and disappointment. After staring at the work for so long, they begin to inflate and exaggerate its flaws until those flaws subsume the entire piece, leaving the artist feeling pathetic, ashamed of what was born out of their heart and invested time and energy.
Presenting creative work to others is an entirely different experience, filled with its own delights and frustrations. One piece is celebrated, while the follow up is rejected -- often times the reasons for such remaining unclear.
Fearing ridicule from peers, many people skip the presentation step, burying the piece altogether. I, myself, was guilty of withholding much of my work for years.
This is unfortunate, and should be done less so, as the sharing of work is necessary and important - a different skill (art form) entirely.
For presentation, an artist must consider:
The release (title, placement, audience, etc.)
The explanation (what, why, how, etc.)
The feedback (channels, responses, etc.)...
Artists are often perfectionists - never quite satisfied with what they have produced. I am no different.
For every song I have recorded, performance I have completed, essay I have written, negotiation I have closed or kiss I have shared, I have always yearned for just one more shot, one final chance, one last take. One more opportunity to get it just right.
That satisfaction I seek, however, is unattainable.
"Good Enough Work" is what I call the attitude I now employ whenever I am creating and releasing new material in any number of mediums. The presentation of work is an altogether different skill that needs cultivation. To practice that, one must release what they make.
For those of you withholding your work from the world, consider the approach of Native American jewelers, who purposefully place one incorrect, or out of pattern bead in their jewelry - the sign of an authentic piece. For them, it is the space from which evil spirits can escape. I think we can reinterpret this practice and learn something about art and those "flaws" we obsess over, often times to the point of our work's demise.
Good enough work is not encouragement to release work you are not proud of, but to not let that desire for perfection stop you from sharing altogether. As I said, I believe the level sought after is, in truth, unattainable.
Dream it. Develop it. Release it. Begin anew.
I would like to thank everyone who has been following along, publicly or silently, providing feedback via a like, comment or personal message. All responses, positive or critical, have meant a great deal to me.
You will have to forgive me, as I will be stepping away from my blog - and writing in general, actually - for the remainder of January 2016. Perhaps an occasional release of some things already started - "Good Enough Work" - but far less than December.
I have decided to immerse myself in the Spanish language, and commit myself to a rigorous physical challenge. For the remainder of January, I will be listening, watching and reading in Spanish alone - music, too - and running harder than I ever have before.
It is time to learn a new language, and achieve a now 4-year old objective.
Enjoy the start to 2016 -- it is going to be nuts.