Category Archives: Emotions

Breakdown the Pretence

Marcel Duchamp New York, Bicycle Wheel 1951 (third version, after lost original 1913) MoMA

What is the problem you are solving for?

I’ve been thinking about this question for quite some time as it relates to the artwork that I create. I’ve been pulling at strings to see where they go. I’ve found myself surprised at what parts of my thinking and feeling that these strings have become attached to. There are times in which I become impatient and pull a little too hard on that string, from a little too far away. Then I find myself knee-deep in an emotional mess that will take me days or weeks to mentally clean up. Curse my never-ending curiosity! Curse my never ending impatience! (insert angry fist shaking at the sky)

The aforementioned question is related to what I think is simple envy. Envy of artists and creators that have found a level of acceptance and/or acclaim by I guess what you could call, the ‘larger professional art world’ as well their levels of financial success. As the mortal sins go, envy is one that I do not like seeing within myself. It can get ugly unbelievably quickly. I spreads and begins poisoning all thought and emotion. This the thread that I have been tugging on.

I have recently had some small successes in selling some of my own artwork. It’s been nice to have some extra money coming in. I’d like to be able to make that continue. Small sales successes are super-nice and I am insanely grateful to those people who have purchased my artwork. Maybe doing that would keep envy at bay for me?

No. I don’t think so, because I’ve been looking at the question all wrong and being far too simplistic in my answer to myself.

The artists and craftspeople who are successful are working their collective asses off. They hustle hard. Then they go and hustle some more. They are dedicated and keep plugging away, making pieces of artwork to sell. Packing it up and taking it to art and craft shows. Putting it all up. Tearing it all down. Turning around and doing it again, and again, and again. The whole while, they’re making more artwork to sell. (Insert the sound of a needle being ripped from an LP)

Wait a minute, what was the problem I was solving for again? Oh yeah. I make my artwork for me. In the words of Colin Moulding (XTC), “I am the audience.” I make the artwork that I want to make, when I want to make it. I do not make artwork for an imagined customer. It’s great when people do purchase my artwork. They’ve seen something that they like and they like it enough to give me money for it. I don’t know what people in the ‘greater art world’ think of what I make. I never seem to get far enough along in the process of showing my work in well established galleries to find out what they think. (shoulder shrug inserted here)

There have been times in my past where I have made artwork expressly for sale, but I never quite got the knack of it. It never felt ‘right’ in the sense that I don’t feel like I was being true to myself and my own need for free creative expression.

My question is answered. Envy has been abated.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

PS: Here is a Santigold song, L.E.S. Artistes that I’ve had as accompaniment in my head for the past week.


Mental Bonfire Making

I have an incredibly distorted view of how I’m seen and understood by the people around me. My assumption is that people do not like me. Whatever situation I find myself going into, I actually think to myself, “Now remember, people don’t like you. You are loud and obnoxious. People will hate that. Oh yeah, and you’re fat too. People hate that as well.” I tell myself that I need to compensate for these deformed bits of my personality and physicality, as well as preparing myself mentally and emotionally for ‘Personal Interaction Scenarios A thru ZZZ’. I seriously hear the flipping of a rolodex in my head when thinking about my mental and emotional ‘contingency plans’.

I’m constantly surprised that I have friends who actually willing to spend time with me. As a write this, I’ve got plans this afternoon to meet up with some friends for our annual Christmas cookie exchange. And even thought I’ve known these lovely people for more than four years, I’m still surprised that get invited to do things like this.

Until meeting, dating and marrying my husband, I had an incredibly ‘transactional’ understanding of the concept of love. Romantic love, fraternal love, all kinds of love and friendship, etc., it had become hard-wired into my mind that if I wanted someone to love me, or simply want to be my friend, I needed to give them things (gifts) to make them love me or at least tolerate my company. The more things I gave them, or did for them, the more likely it would be for them to love me and accept me for the loud, obnoxious, lumpy creature that I am.

What does this have to do with anything other than explaining how incredibly messed-up I am? This malformed part of my emotional functioning is one of the foundations upon which stands career as an artist. That is to say, my hesitation and difficulties in creating a more stable artistic career for myself.

As I’ve written previously, my artwork is personal and comes from weird mental and emotional head-spaces of my current and past life experiences. Having this as inspiration for art work creation is well and good, but when money is added to the equation, my mind and heart race and panic begins to set in. (As I type this, I can feel my heart-rate increase.)

Uhh…what are you talking about?

Money makes me panic. Having too much money. Having too little money. Having exactly the right amount of money. It just makes me panic. I don’t like thinking about it. I certainly don’t like worrying about it. For me, money is panic and panic is not good. I like being in control of my mind and body and panic takes that control away from me, until I can wrestle it into a modicum of control.

Anyway, back to how adding money to the equation that includes quantities like my artwork. (Man. For a self-proclaimed ‘non-mathematical person’, I sure do use a lot of mathematical functions to explain myself.)

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I create a lot of artwork. I post a lot of pictures of my artistic process and how my work comes together in the physical sense. My most recent work has not been offered for sale, mostly because I don’t think anyone would want to buy it. I spend weeks working on individual dolls, and I feel as though the prices that I would ask would put off prospective buyers, with most thinking that my prices were too high for an unknown artist. Even calculating a price for one of these pieces sent me into a panic-spiral.

There are times in which I create art that I think might be something that an individual might want to purchase. I do at those times, offer my dolls, my artwork, for sale. When those pieces don’t sell, then enters my malformed internal ‘transactional love’ mechanism.

Allow me to explain via a scenario: I make a piece of artwork. It gets a lot of likes. People tell me that I should be selling this artwork. I feel love and acceptance, because people I have never met tell me they like my artwork enough to buy it. I post the artwork for sale. No one buys the artwork. Love and acceptance fading. Malformed internal ‘transactional love’ mechanism reinforced. Money = Panic bond reinforced.

Let me be the first to say, I KNOW THIS IS REALLY, REALLY, STUPID AND NOT AT ALL THE WAY THAT ANY OF THIS HAPPENS OUTSIDE OF MY OWN, TINY, INSULAR HEAD. NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE. I’m not so mentally and emotionally unaware that I do not know that this is incredibly, horrifically, insanely messed-up, and that all that ‘messed-up’ is totally on me. I grew up with this weird understanding of love as being something transactional. I know that the world owes me exactly nothing. I am free to make all the artwork I want to, but there is no law that says anyone has to like it and/or buy it. I know this. I know this. I know this. But this is the logical part of my brain, the emotional part of my brain is still madly scribbling complex mathematical equations on a chalkboard, sobbing uncontrollably and contemplating creating a bonfire of my artwork.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next Tuesday.