Monday, August 18, 2014

"Keith Richards, Firestones and the Persevering Artist"

 From Pete Hilmelman's column, "Keith Richards, Firestones and the Persevering Artist (How Sensitive Creators Can Best Bring Their Work Into the World"..
...There are three basic stages to the creation of commercially viable art: You conceive the idea, you develop it and then you bring it to the marketplace. The marketplace is the tough one because it demands that you shut down the excess emotion.

If I were selling Firestone tires, for example, it would be so much easier than selling the wares of my inner-life. When someone says they approve of the music I write and record, it makes me happy, when they don't, it can be depressing. It can make me feel like the essence of who I am, (which I believe my music is) is unlovable.
I'm not sure that makes me an anomaly among creative people. Being thin-skinned to the world and steeled to the hard realities of making art a commercial endeavor is a paradox that's painful and difficult to sustain. Some people try to alleviate the sting by offering platitudes.

"You're so much more than what you create." That's trying to get me to disentangle my art from who I am. But I can't. That statement is total bullshit to the one who is doing the creating.

"No one can make you feel bad about yourself except you." Talk about blaming the victim. And it's a lie if there ever was one. People can and do make you feel bad.
Then there is this famously unhelpful one: "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." C'mon, Nietzsche, it can also leave you weeping in a fetal ball...

Managing the paradox is all about being part of a collaborative experience, being part of a band..

The way ahead is easy. Call a sensitive-antenna-ed friend and have a conversation about love, meaning and empathy over lunch. And next time you choose to isolate yourself, make sure you're doing it because it's an aesthetic decision, not merely a choice of convenience. Your art will be better for it and the talons of the marketplace will feel a lot less sharp. 

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