Artist’s Identity

More from my meanderings on and artists statement or manifesto. The identity of the artist in his head is so important. How do we think of ourselves in such a way as to facilitate The Work? Good question. From my recent scribblings:

How can the artist reconcile qualitative things via quantitative means? How can a rational person add up the number of long hours spent doing one thing, compare it to the relatively few hours spent doing another, and in the calculation prove that his identity lies with the latter? The best way to do it is to ignore it. The focus must remain on quality and not quantity when time is the issue. And if identity is tied to The Work then that should be enough.

There will be many days, however, when that calculation wins and we are left questioning our identity. The pressure of the outside world is strong and in this culture the desire to categorize people without more than a cursory glance at a few key attributes is overpowering. The fight on the outside is always won by The Work. The internal struggle is so much more insidious. What Steven Pressfield refers to as Resistance (with a capital R) in The War of Art is always present and trying to derail The Work. One of its most powerful tools is self-doubt. If we doubt ourselves, we will doubt that doing The Work is important. Once that seed is planted, we are left with pushing ourselves to do what needs to be done. The difficulty of this internal battle cannot be underestimated. Our most powerful tool is permission.

Every day I grant myself the permission to think deeply about my art. I do some piece of The Work every day whether it’s a sketch or a simple review of past pieces. I require myself to write about something having to do with my work every day and post something to my blog once a week. Regardless of how I feel, I show up for my studio time. I read about my art. I do research. I make absolutely sure that The Work is more than just something that I do for fun or relaxation. It’s not a purely recreational activity, though it may rejuvenate me. The Work is required. Every day. So while we grant ourselves permission and we bake that into almost every facet of our lives, we also need devotion to The Work to carry us through and maintain the personal identity of the artist.