Some Thoughts on “Some Thoughts on the Quality of Art”

This Tumblr post of a friend-of-a-friend has given me some things to chew on.

I think it helps explain some of the problems I have with doing anything remotely art-like. I know I lack technical prowess, and whenever I make anything – whether it’s writing or some kind of digital art or the rare painting – it’s driven mostly by passion. But I always have to ask myself if that passion actually matters. If I’m not great at it on a technical level, AND if I’m maybe not completely groundbreaking either, what right do I have to be passionate about what I’m doing?  I already felt sorta crap about my technical prowess, but I guess I never remembered that I should be innovative, too.

I mean, it’s not like I can help it. If I could control what I feel passionate about at any time, or how original my ideas are, I’d be letting a constant sluice of energy into my brain and I’d never let up from creating never-before-imagined things. But it comes and it goes, or channels itself into different projects, in ways I can’t actually guide. All I can do is choose whether or not to ignore my creative impulses. Usually I have to ignore it for practical reasons (I have to do real work, I can’t make it come out right, I don’t have the equipment, etc.)

But sometimes there’s nothing that’s really holding me back — just the question of whether passion alone is an adequate justification for pursuing that passion. Whether pursuing my passion, despite technical failure and unoriginality, is a cop-out.

I want to say it’s always okay to try things, and that you’ve only failed when you give up. But that’s probably insulting to real artists.

This is why I almost never actually accomplish anything. I just have ideas, try to start, remember who and what I am, then give up and go pet the cats.

…I say as I write and publish a blog entry.

Maybe I’m just thinking too much about some end-game, some concept of being “famous” to at least some degree, with a lot of people from a lot of backgrounds all looking at me and my work, and judging me.  I’m trying to figure out how to be acceptable to as many people as possible.  And when that starts to happen, my usual instinct is just to withdraw.  I can’t make everyone happy simultaneously, and my own happiness and utility shouldn’t come at the expense of anyone else, and if I screw something up, I risk failing other people and failing the idea itself.  So it’s easier not to try, and easier to justify inaction.

I realize this is a somewhat cowardly attitude.  I’m letting the hypothetical judgment of a bunch of hypothetical people dissuade me from doing not only hypothetical things, but real actual things I could really actually do.  And, obviously, all those hypothetical things are being hypothesized in my own damn head.  I mean, yes, I might not be able to really actually do the things I want to do very WELL, but it’s usually at least somewhat possible.  And people have liked some of the things I’ve dared to do.  I’ve had good feedback on some of my writing, when I’ve dared to show it to anyone, and on some crafts.

At the same time, I fear it’s an even bigger cop-out to say “Screw it, my audience is Whoever Likes This Thing I’ve Made.”

Still… this is The Internet.  Even if something isn’t original, it can be remixed and recontextualized, used to satirize other things, or even to satirize itself.  And there’s someone out there for everything.   The Long Tail is looooooooooooooooooong.

Maybe it’s worth it to just put something in the world that wasn’t there before. Whatever it is. Do what I’m compelled to do, even if it’s derivative.  Do it as well as I can.  Put it out there.  Whoever finds it and likes it, right on – I knew I was right to pursue it.  Whoever finds it and hates it, right on – I knew it was a bad idea even as I pursued it.  I can’t pretend to be genuine or be trolling when I legitimately don’t know what I’m doing.  I’m just making things, because I can.

Maybe it’s okay to err on the side of creation.

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