I’ve been playing around with drawing lately, trying to beef up my skills. As a beginning artist starting later in life, I’m having to shut off that part of my brain that judges every last thing I do. I’m trying instead to return to my childhood; as a child confronted with something new, I already knew that I didn’t know how to do it, but I didn’t let that stop me. I played. I experimented. I tried it out. I figured out what worked and what didn’t.
But what do I do now, as an adult? I read books. I subscribe to blogs. I watch vidcasts. I immerse myself in a world of information that’s waiting at my fingertips, all about drawing. You know what I’m doing when I’m absorbing (or ignoring) all that information? I’m not drawing. Merlin Mann has had a few choice words about the perils of drowning yourself in information, and I’ve fallen prey to all of them.
The one that has plagued me the most of late is this fear that I’m just not an artist. Period. But I have to turn right around and tell that fear to shove it, because I am an artist…
You are an artist
I create. You create. We all do. What makes us uniquely human is our ability to create.
But there are lots of people out there who are more than happy to tell me that I’m not an artist. That what I do isn’t art; that what I produce isn’t good enough to be considered art; that even if it is art and is good, that it isn’t the kind of art that I should be doing. And at the very top of that list of critics is me.
Every artist is plagued by “not”. Not good enough, not the right kind, not enough of it.
But I know that I’m an organizer. That’s one of my skills, and for me, it’s an art. Granted, I can become a bit obsessive about it on occasion, but for the most part organizing things makes me feel relaxed and happy. And at the end of an organizational project, I can look at all the neat lines, clearly labeled boxes, and wide empty space free of clutter and pat myself on the back at a job well done. It makes me feel good.
Where’s my Olympic medal? Where’s my gold star? My Pulitzer? My Nobel?
They’re not there, and that’s just fine. I’m not doing it for awards, I’m doing it because I love my craft. I can spend a few hours on Wikipedia tagging articles with the appropriate metadata, resting assured that in my tiny little way, I’ve helped increase the level of organization in the world. I can also lend my skill to others, and watch as a folks adopt my organizational methods for themselves because they see how easy it can be.
Whatever it may be, your art is worth celebrating
So I’m an artist. And so are you. And together we can tell Fear exactly where he can shove it, because we rock at our art. It may be research, or cataloging, or project management, or reshelving books, or being a mom, or listening, or telling jokes, or bookbinding, or laughing, or standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. There are trillions of arts out there, and I want you to celebrate yours. And keep on creating your art.