Ok, an unscheduled blog post, 'cause I've been thinking about this a lot the last couple of days.
Why do we do this?
Why do we struggle for hundreds and thousands of hours to learn a skill that the average person doesn't understand, value or even appreciate? Why do we spend hours drawing a comic book page that the average person will flip through in 8-15 seconds? Why do we paint landscapes that could have been captured with photographs, and that the average person is going to judge based on how close to that photo we painted it anyway? Why do we continue on after the harshest crits, after the constant stream of posts about how studios are closing and paying less, and how there are more and more people trying for fewer and fewer jobs that haven't been shipped overseas?
Why do we get up in the morning?
I can't speak for you. I know why I do it. There are stories in me that want out. There are ways of seeing things that I want to share. There are emotions I need to express, and to explain. I don't do it to make pretty images. I don't do it to be a "legitimate" artist, whatever the hell that means.
I don't do it for the money. I need to be paid so I can continue to do it, and, like most of us in North America, currency has become a shorthand for measuring success to me. I want to be valued - I think we all do, but I made far more money as an IT consultant then I will ever realistically make in this field, and that's ok.
I want to feel like I'm getting better. I picked this as a career primarily because it was something I could strive to get better at my entire life. I don't want to suck, but I want to be able to look at things and feel a sense of humble wonder. You just don't get that from other careers the same way.
When I lose track of these reasons is when I "fall off the tracks". When I start making images to try to make a better portfolio so i can get hired by a studio, or to get "likes" on social media, it inevitably gets me into trouble. When I paint to tell better stories, to share emotions, and to improve my craft, I don't get depressed, and I don't feel the sense of doubt I do the other times.
Like I said, I'm not you...but if you're feeling down about your work, or stressed about "making it", or depressed that you don't have more Tumblr followers, stop and re-assess why you are doing this. There are easier jobs. You get more Tumblr followers posting photos of half-naked women. You can make more money with less effort as an IT consultant.
You should be paid for what you do. You should be able to make a living as an artist. You should be respected by society as much as the programmers that seem to rule our current "job field" pecking order. None of those things should be why you make art, they should be a by-product.
We should attack the system for failing to provide opportunities - but that's a different problem than the painting itself. If you can separate them, I think you might be happier. I know it helps me when I am able to do it.
Thanks for listening.