It dawns on me now how delusional an artist must be to persevere. When an artists’ work is rejected by company after company, publication after publication, and when he loses contest after contest then—in order for him to keep his dream vivid—he must draw the conclusion not that there is something wrong with his work, but that none of these highly respected entities know what they are doing. That his artwork is misunderstood. That there is a conspiracy in place so that his voice will never be heard.
This may strike some as an illogical approach to determining why the artist has not yet found success but to the artist it is not a stretch. It is normal for the artist to think outside of the confining limitations of rational thought. After all, his identity is wholly based on his ability to do so. He never fit into any group that he felt he was supposed to belong to. He never travelled in the direction that would have made his life simple and bearable. At some point he became addicted to enthralling audiences with very well crafted portraits of his own suffering. The audiences always paid him with healthy rounds of applause but rarely with money. He always accepted this as his lot in life. He always embraced his role as that of the struggling artist until the day that he couldn’t.
One day he woke up and he had an epiphany. During this moment of clarity he realized that he was tired of being broke. He was tired of dreaming. He needed success to happen in a hurry. So naturally he began to think of creative ways to package his soul in order for it to be sold to the masses. The problem arises when the artist comes to terms with the fact that, up until this point, he has been solely responsible for everything that he has created. He has been his own producer, editor, manager, composer, publicist, etc. But now in order to make a career out of his passion, he must depend on other people. He must beg for admittance into a world that he thought he was familiar with. And he must place himself at the mercy of those who have never done what he can do, and could care less about the blood that had to be shed in order to tell his story in such an intense manner. The one question that they are all concerned with is; Will it sell?
He finds himself bewildered by the question because he has never really considered it. He notes to himself that it is a very necessary question to ponder if he wants to make money and he admits that he knows very little about the business side of art. So he waits. He waits for a call back. He waits to be published. He waits until he wins a contest. He waits to make money. He waits to be “discovered.”
During this time he tries to make his style similar to the artists who are currently “making it.” He notices that they all sound the same. They aren’t necessarily bad at what they do but nothing about them is different. After a while he gives up on this disingenuous pursuit of trying to sound like someone else. He says out loud to anyone that will listen that at some point he will change the world; he only needs the opportunity to do so. In his own mind, however, he knows that he must create this opportunity for himself. And deep in his subconscious mind—percolating through his soul—he has his doubts. He doubts if he possesses the energy necessary to change the world all by his lonesome.
He openly hates all of those who are “making it” and dismisses their styles as trite and irrelevant to the general betterment of mankind. He says to himself in secret that he is better than them. That they were born with connections that he himself will never have. That the ultimate fear of society is that one day he will find a way to release all of the voices in his head and then instead of the artist slowly going insane the masses would have to recognize how truly delusional they have become.
In this way the artist must be obsessed with his own individuality and cling to his craft in the same way that a dying man clings to his life. He must only be concerned with his own interpretations and his own perceptions of reality. He must be contrarian everyday. He must relish standing alone more than he relishes success. He must worship the art and not the money, which will always cast him out of society.