Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do I paint for you .... or for me?

I was just reading an interesting article and subsequent discussion on Skinny Artist called The Delusional Freedom of an Artist, about whether to paint for an audience - a market - or to paint purely for yourself. It raises the question of whether, if your art is too personal, it becomes meaningless to anyone other than yourself. A great quote in it is How do we know when we have crossed that fine line between following where our inspiration leads, and going to that place where no one else cares about?

I have pondered this question of whether to paint for myself or for an audience for decades and now know what works for me. That is not to say that it would work for everyone – we all have different needs and different driving forces. All I know is that I can finally fully trust my own artistic judgement and – whilst I welcome mentoring and advice from artists whom I respect – I will only paint what I want to paint. For me there is no compromise for the sake of sale-ability. This works for me. When I disassociate my art from any potential market I simply make better art. Yes, art is about reaching out and communicating honestly and creatively with people, but I do that best when I am not concerned about the reception my work may have. When I have been overly concerned about the audience then my work ends up being shallow, forced and derivative. When I trust myself and keep my eye on the goal of becoming a better artist then I give myself the freedom to take risks. And risk-taking is critical for creative success.

So the answer is: I paint for both you and for me. But I can only do work that is worthy of you if I try not to second guess what you may think of it.

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