When I hear the word ‘artist’, I imagine a free spirit; I visualize long, straggly hair, a pair of shades nonchalantly placed slightly tilted above the nose, a cigarette(or even better, cigar) between the quivering, chapped lips, with a paint-splattered ripped white shirt(or no shirt), and ripped faded old jeans, and to finish off, probably a pair of black Doc Martens(or at least something that looks like Doc Martens).
(And it would probably look somewhat similar to this.)
I’ve realized that this is my way of absorbing what ‘being an artist’ means from popular culture: movies, novels, television, and online. The idea of being an artist seems more romantic now than it ever has before. Take the recent box office hit Begin Again, for example. The protagonists are drunk, broke, considered unimportant by mainstream society, yet somehow manage to overlook these realistic obstacles and strive toward an artistic, emotional, sentimental value, which portrays them them as true artists. (“Maybe music should be FREE,” Mark Ruffalo says to his music industry business partner/boss in Begin Again.)
Judging from how a huge portion of society defines ‘being an artist’, it seems sooo, so different from being a banker or a stock investor or a teacher. It seems like a job that’s so aloof from the majority of other jobs out there. Maybe it’s because most artists aren’t in it for the money or the profit or even popularity, but rather for the meanings of things. They often hold a contrasting perspective on life itself, and know(or at least act like they know) to appreciate even the subtle things, from emotions or moments to the feeling you get when you step outside on a rainy day to the randomness of the birthmark on the back of your left ankle(see? that sounds artistic, haha). We expect artists to not be money-driven, because we think that art is supposed to be pure and crazy and unrealistic. It’s almost magical in itself. In fact, I bet being an artist is way more romantic than Tinder(obviously).
Now, my humble, personal opinion is that I disagree with how being an artist is branded because it creates some unfair stereotypes for artists. And although I’m constantly tempted to lock myself in my room with my paintbrushes and 4B pencils and respond to my mother’s “Keonha you gotta study!” with “Mum. I’m an artist. Artists don’t fret over such profane matters. I need time to drink my black coffee and think my artistic thoughts(and no, I’m not daydreaming. Artists don’t daydream. We do creative thinking).”, I try to dismiss the thoughts by reminding myself of the essence of art(which I believe to be genuineness) and scold myself for falling into the somewhat shallow trap of the commercially painted ‘popular’ image of ‘the artist’.
But then again, at the end of the day, none of us really have/will ever have a complete answer to the mysterious, fabulous question of what being an artist means to us as humans. All we can do is write blog posts like this and express what goes on in our heads and try to scrape at the surface of the great holy truths of art. After writing this post, I STILL don’t have a straightforward answer to what being an artist actually means, but one thing I do know is that what I love most about being an artist(alright, alright-self proclaimed artist) is the freedom. You’re socially allowed to be totally nuts and display your true weird self for everyone to see. This is great news for me and all the other slightly
crazy different humans out there, since we’re usually in love with spontaneity and sudden outbursts of randomness. Isn’t that how life’s supposed to be lived-free, natural, and fun? : )
Image Credits: http://favim.com/image/179077/