Thursday, 1 September 2011

Good Artists and Great Artists

A fellow artist and greeting card designer once told me, tongue in cheek, I believe, that she’d just decided that she was never going to make it to the Royal Academy and was going to settle for making some money from her art instead.

I wonder how many of us have secretly cherished dreams of fame and fortune that, at some point, we are forced to relinquish when it becomes apparent that our dreams were unrealistic. I suspect that at some point we have all hoped that, one day, we would be ‘discovered’ and a kind of ‘rags to riches’ scenario would ensue, though hopefully not quite like this one -

It does happen. We read stories and see movies about ordinary people who were ‘talent-spotted’ or who rose to the heights of fame, seemingly out of nowhere. J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series is a good example. She went from living on benefits to becoming a multi-millionaire within the space of five years. And the proliferation of ‘talent-spotting’ TV shows where someone like Susan Boyle can come from nowhere and shoot to international fame, with a song called, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, shows us what can be achieved by ‘dreaming big’.

Perhaps this hope of a meteoric rise to fame, and all that goes with it, as a result of being ‘discovered,’ is linked to every little girl’s dream that ‘One day my Prince will come’, the story of Cinderella and so many other ‘and they all lived happily every after’ fairy tales?

Little boys on the other hand are perhaps more likely to understand that fame and fortune has to be sought proactively, like Dick Whittington setting off to London, where, he has heard, the streets are paved with gold.

So, yes, it does happen – there are fantastic talents, geniuses even, waiting to be discovered. And it’s good to have dreams. It’s good to set our sights high. But when our dreams don’t seem to be getting any closer to fulfilment than when we started out, what should we do then?

That is the time to recognise that we can’t all be the next ‘best thing since sliced bread’, that not all of us are going to make it into the ranks of the household names, however hard we try. And probably it's time also to recognise that it doesn’t really matter!

For every artist who has succeeded in becoming ‘great’, there are always thousands of ‘good’ artists - and the good news is that they all have their part to play. It’s important not to let those ‘big dreams’ stand in the way of recognising our lesser achievements, our day-to-day opportunities for job satisfaction.

Even with something as apparently ‘minor’ and insignificant as a greeting card design, I still feel thrilled that a complete stranger on the other side of the world chose my card to celebrate a special occasion, notwithstanding the meagre amount of money their choice has earned for me! Recently someone chose my sympathy cards for the loss of a son and a grandson. To me that was a huge honour that somebody had felt that my design was just right for such a poignant occasion.

Yes, art is more than a job, it’s a calling, a passion even, and it’s right that we all hope that our talents will be suitably recognised and remunerated. But it is a ‘job’ as well, sometimes requiring hard work, discipline and non-art activities that we may not enjoy.

And it’s most likely to be this ‘job’ aspect that will provide us with the little common-or-garden variety of satisfactions which will add up to contentment while we wait for our dreams to come true!


Mary Hysong said...

well said!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Mary - nice to see you over here and thank you for your comment :)

art2cee2 said...

wonderful words. I believe you should create because you are an artist. If your fame comes after you are gone, then you are in great company. If you are told you aren't any good and then make a mint on your work, you are again in great company. You have to do what makes YOU happy. :-)

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Crystal - nice to see you back and thank you for your wise words too :)

Country Mouse Studio said...

I'd be willing to be unknown providing I could make some money at it :O)
unfortunately unlike writers and song writers it seems we have to promote ourselves.

Judy Adamson said...

Me too, Carole! I don't think the economy is on our side at the moment, though!

Susan Alison said...

Great post, Judy. As ever, food for thought.

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Susan.

'Food for thought' is what I aim for :)

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Di said...

Here here! Yup I don't have to be rich & famous just want my share of the pie.

Judy Adamson said...

My thoughts exactly, Di!