I think I speak for all serious artists out there. Not just visual artists. Musicians, painters, writers, drawers, crafters, etc. There has been at least a few times you have wanted to give up, whether it be give up on art or on life or on food or on family or on whatever.
I have lately been pondering deeply why this is.
The reasoning came to me several months ago, but I have only mentioned it to a few friends. However, due to what happened this weekend on which I shall elaborate shortly, I was finally motivated to post on it.
There is an arts and crafts festival in my hometown every October. Last year was my first year and I did wonderful. I covered all of my expenses. The weather got a little hot during the early afternoon, but otherwise it was perfect.
This weekend, however, I did horrible.
Let me just tell you WHY I did horrible – actually, it was not my fault. It was everything else’s. Not everyONE, but everyTHING. I was very clearly not meant to be there, when my partner dropped out a few weeks ahead of time due to her schedule (understandable, and with the stress level she had, I supported her decision), then I could not find someone else to share with me. At last I asked another local artist to help me out, and she said yes (none of their stuff sold either.)
Picture this: tent. Photography. Wire. Baskets. Tables. Painted glass vases. Paintings. T-shirt Jewelry. Wind, steady, but coming in gusts every few minutes.
The crowd was WONDERFUL, I am not going to lie. There were so many people. But I do not blame them – if the vendors are spending all their time chasing products around, cleaning up shattered glass cases, resetting boxes and frames, hanging on to their tents to keep them from blowing away, constantly picking up runaway business cards, and carrying cinderblocks back and forth to weigh down the tent (some troubles all of us vendors had), I would not be very inspired to enter the booth and examine the products (which were all over the place and probably more in so-and-so’s booth over there than in their home booth).
People were walking around and looking from afar into booths – a few courageous ones dared to come into booths – but we saw 1 in every 50 people carrying a purchase.
The wind was at its worst in the morning, and in the afternoon it let up just a smidge, but the gusts were still just as bad. So, needless to say, I sold a few 4×6 prints and 3 or 4 packs of notecards.
Let’s talk about the next day. Today. Sunday. Which will be yesterday by the time you read this, most likely.
Of course it would rain today of all days when we have been in a drought since the beginning of SUMMER.
It let up about 11:00 in the morning so I said, after looking at the radar to see a gap in the green/yellow rain blobs, ‘If we go, now is the time, or never.’
So we went and decided, whatever, we’ve got all the stuff, we’re already here, our tables are still here from last night…just do it.
So we did it.
It started drizzling very lightly.
So we set the tent up again and moved everything underneath.
Then the wind started.
Then business cards went flying.
Then an 8×10 print went flying a few minutes later.
Then I wanted to give up. That was the breaking point. When Mum told me she was starting to pack up because there was not a single person walking around except for the three vendors on this side of the blocked-off intersection – myself included.
I got home, unpacked, ate a lunch of cottage cheese at almost 5:00 this afternoon, and began to study for midterms, which hopefully (since they are a couple of days later than I expected, Praise The Lord PTL) will go better than I planned.
Then I did awful on a quiz for Sociology and sent an apology message to my teacher, but that is not important.
MY POINT IS IMPORTANT.
At an early enough point the first day of the festival, I got a Velcro side to the tent from my friends’ booth next to me, which helped in keeping everything in my booth…in my booth and not in theirs. People came in a little more. People picked up. Few people commented, which was more than before. The rare person asked prices on whatever did not have a label (since I had no time to make more price tags as I was chasing the wind, literally). But no one bought.
How do you think that made me feel as an artist?
I had way more product than I intended, so my whole booth (except for the people sharing with me) was filled with the previously mentioned products of mine. With all those people walking around and looking, yet no one buying and very few people commenting or responding to my question of ‘How are you?’ I felt like a failure. I have got such diversity, way more than last year, and there are just as many if not more people, yet I only made $88 total (no sales the second day, of course), I felt like a total failure. Unwanted. Unloved. My booth space alone cost $50, which is absolutely ridiculous for the chairpeople not to have done their jobs well at all.
So here is the answer to the question: why are so many artists depressed or troubled? Why did Van Gogh cut off his ear?
Besides the fact being an artist makes you a different breed of person and therefore susceptible to madness due to overactive creativity and an incredibly high frequency of continual hyperactive brainwaves which will eventually lead you to perform senseless actions such as slicing off a body part should you not guard yourself, artists become mentally/emotionally fragile because we put ourselves into what we create. We love what we create. We cannot help it. Even in dud sketches and messed up tunes and crooked scarves and awful plotlines, we put ourselves into it because we are making it. We are producing it. And when people do not like or do not show appreciation for what we do, we subconsciously feel like they do not like US either.
So what is the solution? Well, just that – guard yourselves. Keep putting yourself into your art, whatever medium it may be. But know that when people do not acknowledge your work, it does not mean they think you are stupid or bad at what you do or that you/your work is meaningless and depraved and insignificant.
And if they actually do think that, well who gives a care, let them think that. I am speaking to myself here: let people think about you what they want. You are who you are. You create what you love. You love what you do. You are good at what you do simply because you are doing it. DO NOT GIVE UP ON ANYTHING. I am proud of you for creating – I really am. Keep doing it, please.
The time is tomorrow, which is today, and I must be at work in less than eight hours. So, I shall sleep all of this stress off before my heart goes crazy and beats out of my chest again (PVCs are caused by stress and fatigue…whoops).
All I can do is ask God to take away my stress so I can focus on what He wants me to create…but for now, mainly school.
Have a lovely week, dears.
(this post originally on my blog)