Go All the Way!

The other day, a former student asked how to get a headshot and a resume back-to-back on the same piece of paper. I said, “Get them printed that way” She said, “That takes money.” Yes, I thought, but it’s your career you’re talking about. I can certainly understand the desire to be as frugal as possible, but when it’s your art on the line, maybe it’s time spend a little bit, make a sacrifice or two.

At the other end of the spectrum, a friend of mine is in the process spending all her savings, leaving friends and family, and moving 1200 miles to get into the graduate program of her dreams. When we discussed it, she said, “I’m afraid if I don’t do it now, I never will.”

In the arts, perhaps more than in other areas, it becomes about putting yourself out there. There is huge risk—particularly because your self and your art are so bound together. It’s almost impossible to put your art out there, whether it’s acting or directing or painting or sculpture or photography or writing, without risking damage to your own psyche.

Yet if you don’t do it, you remain the “undiscovered artist” who creates exclusively for him/herself, which can be, in its own way, satisfying, but which ignores the possibility of reaching an audience. And while I believe that the artistic process is important, finding an audience for your art may be equally important. And that requires exposure; it requires being willing to allow your ego to get bruised, being willing to be rejected, being willing to make sacrifices.

Nothing in the arts seems to be accomplished easily. There is almost always pain of one type or another. The question becomes, are you willing to endure that? Are you willing to risk what is necessary, give up what is necessary, devote the time, energy, and concentration that are necessary to make your art and get it to an audience?

Charles Bukowski offers the following advice in Factotum :

If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.

Part of the payoff is the feeling of exhilaration that you experience from putting it on the line.  As Sacha Lamont puts it in her blog, “Subwhite Cube:”

Remember those moments when you have felt truly and totally alive. When you felt an electric current in your veins. Remember the point of no return. Remember embarking on a trip at dawn, a heroic feeling that suffuse you with a warm glow of anticipation. You start moving and it is a bliss; you cover the ground and it feels like a road is accepting your movement, inviting it, loving it.

The rest of the payoff is, of course, successfully making your art and getting it out there. Is the risk worth it? Only you can decide. You are the one who determines how far you are willing to go to have your voice heard. But if you do have something to say, something to show, something to communicate, then by all means say it, and say it loudly! Go all the way!

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Date: Sunday, 24. July 2011 23:28
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Audience, Communication, Creativity

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