Just this morning, I got an email from one of my artists whose work I collect.
The artist was responding to a recent essay I wrote. The artist told me that they were crushed some time ago after requesting and getting an analysis of their work from an art critic.
“(The) scathing review devastated me,” the artist said. “It took me a long time to get past that …”
Number One … whenever you ask ANYONE about your work … despite your career field, you MUST brace yourself and be ready to accept what is being said. I mean, after all, YOU asked for it.
From time to time, I send out surveys in which I ask readers about ArtBookGuy. I do this knowing full well that I won’t like some of the responses. However, I do it because – no doubt - like that artist I mentioned, I want to learn and grow and get better at what I’m doing.
But let’s face it. No one understands what we do and what we’re up against more than US. Few people realize the struggle, the discipline and the daily challenges that it sometimes takes to move one inch let alone a mile.
Okay, let’s really be honest. We’re ALL human and we ALL really want people to LOVE our work. We want people to totally understand what we’re doing. That’s the truth. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing it.
You know what? I think it’s ridiculously easy to critique someone else’s work. Commenting on someone else’s work doesn’t take much courage or even conviction. All you have to do is just observe or listen and then, comment. It’s always very subjective and often highly prejudiced.
That’s just how it works. It takes MUCH more courage and conviction to actually DO the work. It takes much more guts to be on the football field than it does to Monday morning quarterback.
When you’re working and living your life in the arena, you’re opening yourself up to brutal sweating and bleeding and the constant threat of the loss of self confidence, the loss of a limb or even your life. This is simply what warriors know … and do.
However, wannabes are another story. They sit by the sidelines observing, criticizing and often mocking what they see. Most professional sports fans are wannabes. I actually call them “chicken shits.” Being a chicken shit requires no guts or risk taking of any kind. You just stand off to the side and run around, squawking like a hen in heat.
And you lay a lot of eggs … from the safety of the hen house. The bleachers are always the safest place to be. Wannabes keep those seats warm. No courage required.
I’ll take a troubled warrior over an excellent wannabe anytime. Wannabes are busy making up bullcrap while warriors are often running through it. Wannabes are obsessed with being right while warriors are actually making history.
It’s a matter of taste I suppose.
You know, at one time, the high and mighty were true warriors. But in recent decades, something has happened. There are so many pretenders to the throne these days. Everyone seems to be a wannabe. Everyone seems to want to take the easy road. Nobody wants to get sweaty and bloody and slog through the muck and the mire like warriors MUST. Warriors MUST do this.
You cannot be a warrior with a wannabe mindset. There are no shortcuts. You MUST do THE WORK … every single day. You must engage. You must roll up your sleeves. You must get dirty ... often filthy. You must risk something. You must kick ass and get your ass kicked almost as often. No guts, no glory.
My artist friend is a warrior … in front of that canvas every day. Granted, not everything will be a masterpiece, but you can’t make a masterpiece without shutting up, getting out there and getting dirty. You just can’t.
If you can still walk and talk - and most importantly - smile after rolling around in the trenches full of paint or mud, you’re a warrior.