Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tough Questions for Artists

Hey artist, I got a few questions for you. Yeah, you. Are you an artist? Then read on.

People like us, artists I mean, are always sticking our neck on the public chopping block. Through the morbid ritual of bearing our souls to strangers, we learned that our heads are unseverable. Dizzyable, certainly, but bolted securely to our necks. We create almost as if making things were an involuntary tick. We capture that tick and replay it for the world over and over and over, often to our own undoing. The unmistakable scent of spontaneity that we exude belies that sulfuric compulsion of ours that wells up from our very marrow and explodes as “painting, writing, drama, dance, photography, carpentry, crafts, love, and love”, to quote the poet Saul Williams. In short, experience is what we are interested in here. All else is negotiable. Am I right or am I wrong? Eh?

Looks like the interview has begun.

My main question to you, artist, is this: how important is your creativity to you? Is it right up there with food and shelter? If suddenly you were stripped of all ability to create anything artistic ever again, could you even go on living?

I also want to ask you about your "hopes and dreams", if I may use the cliché as a placeholder for now. What types of projects would you like to undertake next? Is money an object in this regard? I am always interested in what holds artists back, so let me ask this as well, if it's not too personal: what's holding you back from achieving the next level or accomplishing your next artistic mission? I ask this out of a basic assumption that most artists have a backlog of ideas with which they can never keep up. Finally, is it the knowledge that there is always some new creative endeavor waiting for you over the horizon that keeps you alive?

I ain’t done with you yet.

Bear in mind that none of these are yes-or-no answers, per se, just conversation starters. Look at all your art. Every last thing. Look at it all. Are you impressed with your breadth of experimentation? Are there any recurring themes? Have you ever tried humor? Art should be fun. Look in the mirror. Just to get a sense of your own humanity. Be grateful you’re there to see yourself. You could have been somewhere else.

Sorry, not all of these are questions. Some of them are just do what I say. Whatever. I’ve got a lot of things on my mind. Some of the things are advice.

Moving right along, tell me something. I mean just for the hellavitt. Does your hometown rock? Or does it suck? Actually, that's not a fair question, is it. It both rocks and sucks, doesn't it. A tale of two cities, yadda yadda. So let me ask you this: in your opinion, in which ways does your town rock? In which ways does it suck? What are some crappy experiences you've gone through there? And what are some really special and personal moments of happiness you've had there?

Tell me your thoughts about life, the universe, and everything, especially in the context of your personal struggle, and put a lot of talk about art in there, obviously. Make me care more about you than I already do. I want exclusive info! New info is always the best. I find that, as artists, we tend to repeat the same old credentials and accomplishments, when in fact the real accomplishments are getting out of bed in the morning, being able to afford new batteries for your camcorder – you, not me, for I own neither a camcorder nor a camera nor a wristwatch – falling in love, healing old wounds…you know, the human stuff. Not the resumé stuff. On the other hand, resumé stuff is cool too, just as long as you feel proud of it.

All that. Talk. Don't worry about formulating your sentences too hard. Just rattle off your thoughts. Freewrite. It’ll be good for you, and besides, I'm sincerely dying to know. Give me a sense of your whole person, the themes in your life, and the texture of your days.

That is, if you’re not too busy playing chicken with a guillotine.