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Author Topic: Artist's Guilt  (Read 1335 times)

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Killed-the-Machine

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Artist's Guilt
« on: January 24, 2013, 01:24:06 PM »

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of guilt in artists. It's not a universal thing, but I've read about different people talking about it and I know I feel guilty and I don't know. I wanted some more opinions, I guess. I hope this is the place to solicit information... I only joined this forum about twenty minutes ago... :uglystupid2:

Listening to some of Amanda's talk at Harvard, I noticed she mentioned feeling guilty about going to school and then "standing on a box" for her art. The Artist's Way, a phenomenal book that was personally life changing for me, also talks about how artists can be made to feel guilty for being unconventional. Specifically, it deals with the idea of forging your own path, of a rebellion against a nine to five job if that's the kind of stability that creatively drains you, of the emotional suicide that we sometimes try to choke down and ignore to be more practical for the people around us.

I'm also still very young which influences my own occasionally romanticized and idealistic way of thinking about things... and then I'm an artist which makes that worse...

I was just wondering if anyone else has struggled with ideas about this, or has any personal experiences they'd like to share, etc. that might broaden my understanding of this vague but interesting concept.
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Astica

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Re: Artist's Guilt
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2013, 02:05:40 PM »

Oh man, I relate to this. I just finished a four year degree, but I don't want a proper office career because it wont give me time to make films, so I've just started this sort of employment boot camp thing for people who can't find normal jobs and need to. The well-meaning course leaders spent a while patronisingly calling me "alternative" and saying I needed to fit back into the box to train with them, so I've just had to go normal looking for the first time since high school, and went we went around the circle introducing ourselves on the first day I still felt reluctant to admit that I was interested in film making and wanted horrible shift work you didn't need to take home so that I could have more time and flexibility to work on films. I think part of an artists guilt in this way is the perceived pretentiousness in not only saying you're an artist, or that you do art, but in taking it to the extent that you forge your job or your career around what allows you to make art, which a lot of other people think is a futile or immature thing to do.

To have a lot of qualifications and then stand on a box or get a job in a cafe etc shows a commitment to your art that goes against common sense according to a lot of people who don't shape their lives around their creative adventures, and I guess it carries the insecurity that if you fail in some way, or lose interest in what you do, or lose the ability to do it or whatever, then you've screwed yourself out of a more profitable or fulfilling career in the long term.

I hope this makes sense. I just woke up for another soul-crushing day of applying for jobs that have nothing to do with my degree, and I'm not fully awake yet (ever).
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Pelle

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Re: Artist's Guilt
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2013, 02:24:47 PM »

I don't really feel guilty for being an artist. It's the only way I can be happy. I went to Highschool, I could've gone to uni, but I didn't. I studied music, and not even on a conservatory, but on a music school which was based around conceptual thinking. I loved and loathed it. I loved it because it gave me freedom, and I hated it for exactly the same reason.

But I never felt guilty. I know a lot of people who are rich/have a important, high profile job. I don't. And I don't care. I don't need money, I don't need fast cars. I want to make art.

I'm actually lucky enough to be able to teach the guitar and earn some money while doing it. For me that feels a bit like doing what I love. If I had a soul sucking job working in a factory, I would feel kind of bad.

What I do know about feeling guilty is that most people feel guilty because parents/friends/relatives all have a normal job, and you are the odd one out. My parents are very supportive and love my music. They are critical about how I handle everything, but the never judge me for not having a proper job. If that wasn't the case, it think I would have a completely different mindset.

Astica

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Re: Artist's Guilt
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2013, 07:52:54 PM »

It's the only way I can be happy, too, but I feel guilty for being currently dependent on state welfare etc when I shouldn't be. I'm also a disappointment to my parents who are both very money oriented.
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Killed-the-Machine

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Re: Artist's Guilt
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2013, 10:58:11 PM »

Hmmm. Pelle, you make an interesting point. The guilt doesn't seem to be tied specifically to BEING an artist, but addressing your needs as one...  and I think the contrast between me, Astica, and you seems to be our environment... or, rather, the people most influential in it. I too am plagued with only semi-supportive parents. They're into my art, but it's not something you should try to make a living off of. That's their mindset, anyway. Or, you can try, but you shouldn't base your life around the possibility of artistic success.
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Pelle

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Re: Artist's Guilt
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2013, 02:15:32 AM »

I think that makes a huge difference. My parents are very very supportive. My dad was the one who actually said I should study music.

I do still feel bad for doing a job that is below my qualifications (I also deliver the mail, can't live off teaching the guitar alone). But it's not guilt that I feel.

Yet I can fully understand feeling guilty if people around you aren't supporting you. If you're the only one making art and no one seems to understand why you're not acting 'normal', you're going to feel like the oddball.

And Astica, I know more people who feel guilty for being dependent on state welfare. State welfare is there for a reason :) No need to feel guilty. If you can only be happy making music/art, that's the way it's going to be. I do have work, but I still feel unhappy spending half my time doing somewhat I don't really care about.

sangrebloom

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Re: Artist's Guilt
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 01:52:41 AM »

When I was younger, my parents wanted to make my art into the means of my future.  I couldn't do it, I couldn't make my art as a means to pay my bills.  It was like slamming into a wall the first time I tried.  It hurt and was embarrassing when I was told that my work wasn't worth what I asked for. 
I now do it the other way round, my parents are still proud of me, even if I'm not. 

I also got better at just ignoring of people belittling my work, it may not be anything to them, but it's mine.
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