Something just occurred to me.
After having written, "Pop Stars Are Not Artists," I had what I wouldn't call an epiphany, but close to one.
In that essay, I wrote about how many pop stars, singers, musicians, writers, dancers, some architects and others like to call themselves, "artists," but I didn't really explore why.
Why would a highly-creative, evolving person who is a singer or dancer call themselves an "artist"? I mean, isn't it enough to call yourself a writer or musician? Isn't it tough enough to earn those titles let alone take on another ... like the title of artist?
Most visual, contemporary artists are happy with the term, "artist." They don't seek to be called something else. They're too busy trying to live up to one title rather than yet another one.
Well, it just hit me. I think that creative people who aren't visual artists - mainly pop stars - really want to capture what I call, "That Bohemian Vibe." You know what I mean. If they look a certain way (doesn't it always come down to looks?), talk and walk a certain way and generally behave a certain way, perhaps the general public will buy their carefully constructed "image" for marketing purposes, if nothing else.
Dictionary.com defines "Bohemian" as, "a person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices. A gypsy."
I don't know about you, but that certainly describes me. Maybe not the gypsy part though.
Anyway, here's my point. I think that for many people, operating outside of what many would consider "convention" seems very glamorous. Being "bohemian" seems dangerous, edgy and brashly independent. In short, if you're a young man seeking "that bohemian vibe," you probably want to be a James Dean, Jack Kerouac or Johnny Depp type and if you're a young woman seeking "that bohemian vibe," you might want to be viewed as a Madonna or Lady Gaga type.
But here's the problem ... the issue is wanting to be a "type." Wanting to possess a "vibe" or reinventing your "image" is about as artificial as a plastic banana. It may fool some people, but not many. Isn't this mainly the domain of pop stars? Wanting to "re-invent" themselves?
Again, this is where I take issue with people who aren't visual artists calling themselves, "artists." You cannot BE an artist without actually walking the walk. Let me give you an example. As a journalist, I meet a lot of people who think that being a reporter is this glamorous thing. They think that by holding a microphone in your hand and saying, "We're LIVE!" that it makes you a journalist. Guess what? That's such a tiny part of the job. It's laughable.
If you want to have that bohemian vibe of an artist, you have to actually BE one. You have to DO the work. You have to take the bad along with the good. You have to experience the lows as well as the highs and it's not like there are that many highs anyway.
Not too long ago, one of my colleagues and I were taking a break at work while looking outside the office window. Down below, we saw a group of Marines all decked out in their slick, spiffy uniforms with their black shoes so shiny that they were almost reflecting the sun that shined down on them. I know, I know. Marines are the opposite of bohemian, but hang with me for a moment.
Anyway, I said to my colleague, "You know, I think the Marines have the sharpest uniforms of everyone in the military." My colleague, a Vietnam vet, replied, "There's a WHOLE LOT more to being a Marine than the uniforms!" Of course.
The Marines that we were eyeing below have the vibe, but more importantly, they've got the GRAVITAS. They've done the work and they've met the challenges. They've seen the horror and agonized over spilled blood and guts. Those uniforms come with a heavy price.
As we watched them pass by, those men were literally walking the walk. They were OWNING the title "Marine" and not just WEARING it. In order to BE anything, you must walk a mile in shoes similar to those who've walked before you. It's not just about achieving a "vibe."
But back to artists and creative people ... it's a fantastic thing to aspire to be something. Dreams and aspirations are beautiful and necessary. They make life worthwhile. Yet it's one thing to want "that bohemian vibe" ... actually LIVING it is quite another.
Do you want that bohemian vibe? Great. Go for it. But it's not a fashion choice. There's a lot more to it. Grab your armor, sword and shield. You'll need them. Oh, take some aspirin and Tums with you too. Also, pack a box of bandages and some rubbing alcohol.
Glamour is so enticing, but the reality behind it can be a bitch.