As with most artists, I have a bunch of hang-ups. I'm pissed off at a number of rules, conventions, traditions, myself, other artists, and mostly anything that challenges my ego.
I wish I could confess to being in harmony with myself. This is not the case though.
Let me for a moment indulge myself.
When I get up on the wrong side of the bed, I basically have a mean disposition. I see all the hypocrisy in the art world. The grant never came through, even though I'm a genius. My current exhibition received practically no press coverage, even though I'm a genius.
My ego can't take all this punishment!
When I wake up on the right side, I feel really good.
I have none of the above mentioned hang-ups. And basically I feel like a genius, without all the drawbacks.
My point is this:
Should artists have an ego the size of John Holmes attire? ( Note: Holmes large attire led to his downfall ).
A large ego will inevitably be a decisive factor in an artist success; being capable of amazing feats of selfishness, ignoring friends and family if they should get in the way, focusing one hundred percent on reaching one's goals.
This is probably one of the reasons men tend to sit higher on the totem pole than their better halves. Constantly having to be caring of others needs must be a trying affair for women, even though one should give them a couple of points for compassion.
This is the basic question:
Should the artist be more like the stereotype male (egoistic), or more like the female version (caring)?
There is no doubt, and we know by experience, that reaching a career goal and being an egoist go very well together. But by no means does it go well with raising a family.
It seems to me that the only answer is a combination of egoism and caring. But this being an idiotically obvious answer, let me dig a little deeper.
There is and will always be a conflict between caring and egoism. Is it possible to be a "part time" egoist?
You come home from work in the afternoon, trying desperately not to kick the dog, nodding subversively to your wife who's telling you to be home earlier, and listening to your childrens` latest whim, promising to take them to the amusement park.
As one can see from the example, caring takes a lot of time. Time which could be spent working on ones` career. And maybe there's an artist out there somewhere, working even harder, rocketing ahead of you on the career ladder.
Now, you can fantasize about how you do have a happier life than the poor bastard receiving all the fame and fortune. But what it basically breaks down to is time. The more time you spend on something the greater the results.
In all fairness, having a family does give a good impression, and may very well help your career. Most famous icons had families, even though I can't think of a single one that was a good father or mother. Daughters and sons of the rich and famous have a hard time it seems.
And where does all this leave us?
This is not just a discussion on how to fuck everyone over and become rich and famous. It is also about ART. The quality of art and inevitably how working hard will improve this quality.
I have some vague recollection of why I became an artist. I really wanted to move my audience, make them feel something, touch their inner souls etc.
Now if I work hard at my art, touch the inner souls of my audience; then this must be a noble act, a selfless act, a caring act.
The plot thickens.
So I am successful AND caring, just not to my closest family.
I have read all the books on how to become a happy person, mostly published in the States. But none of them about the artist. We have a drive, a longing to express ourselves. And the only way I know of making a successful attempt at this is by working my arse off - not because I expect fame and fortune, but because this gives me the greatest pleasure in the whole world.
I'm very well aware of the importance of living, not just working. We need family, friends, rich experiences and everything a life could possibly offer to develop as artists and human beings.
And sometimes I wonder.
Am I spending time with my family and friends only to tank up on life experience. Experience I use when producing my art.
Like dropping off at the local gas station, "Fill her up please."