I feel that, as artists, one of our biggest faults is our insecurity in our own work. Two weeks ago I met someone, and for the first time, I introduced myself as a painter. It took me three years to be able to admit that to a stranger, and I don’t even know why. It’s as if I was expecting the world to come undone, and the whole place to just stop and gasp in horror as they looked at the abomination that I am. No, the world kept going. The person I told this to shrugged their shoulders and said “Cool.”
And the thing is, I have only been a painter for the last three years, and felt like one for just one, and before that I was always a writer. I spent my high school years avoiding reality in the comfort of books, in the company of my own characters that I made up in my head, and never put on paper. I felt that I could never do them enough justice if I wrote about them, I felt that I wasn’t good enough of a storyteller to be trusted to bring them to the world. And a lot of the times, I never did. I started stories only to abandon them, I wrote drafts and deleted them right after I had finished typing. And the thing is, this has translated into my painting.
I can never paint at the same time that I write, and I don’t mean by that the exact current moment, but rather a period in time. Whenever I am drawn to paint, I cannot stop; it is all that I think about, and there’s an itch that doesn’t go away. I am in the studio every waking day and hour, and the more I make, the more I want to keep going. Writing, then, is tough in those periods, because all I can write down are my thoughts on whatever I am working on at the moment. And vice versa, when I start writing, really start writing, I am far too immersed in the world that I am creating, in my characters and my own thoughts, that the paintings I make in that state of mind end up being some of the worst work ever known to mankind.
But coming back to insecurity as an artist. I feel it is necessary in healthy doses. I have never met an artist who was safe and confident about their work always; the ones who act like that are, ironically, no good as a general rule. They always say you are not supposed to love your own work, because it stops you from developing further; it stops you from exploring the many possibilities of the medium. But at the same time, being too insecure is frowned upon, because it shows weakness, and it shows that you don’t know what you’re doing. I have learned that artists, at least the ones of my generation, are like vultures in some way. We see that insecurity, and we feed off it. In the first weeks of a class, be it photography or painting, no one talks to each other because they have not seen anybody’s work yet. And then right after the first critique, the environment changes completely, and everyone is so friendly and supportive, so long as you show the beginnings of a young genius.
But I find it so ironic, because all of us are insecure, I am convinced of it. It’s just that we learn to not show it. We learn to talk of concepts and ideas, and we learn to ‘accept’ the work. By that I mean, we begin to have a conversation with our work. It comes to a certain point in the creation of a painting where you are no longer in control; rather, the painting is speaking to you. It’s a very odd thing to put in words, but you feel it - you feel where this painting is supposed to be taken, where it wants to be taken; all you have to do is listen.
And then writing. Writers are notorious a lot of the time to never show anyone their work, not until they feel that it is done, or at least on the right track to being done. I may be mistaken, but it is what I do, and I don’t even introduce myself as a writer; it is what a lot of the people I know do. The whole reason for insecurity in your work, I think, is being afraid that other people will not ‘get’ it, that perhaps you really are in a conversation with yourself, and not in a good way. Art is a vain thing to do - you have to believe that your opinions, that what you create, are important enough for the world to notice - and sometimes, it can feel like you are, for lack of a better term, wanking off. Because without the context of other people looking at your work, without the presence of the viewer, all that is left is you, just one person making something, just one person with a bunch of crazy ideas in his head. “Crazy”, too, is a dangerous thing, as there is a very thin line between being accepted by the society, or avoided altogether, no matter if you think you are a prodigy and a voice of this generation.
TL;DR Insecurity in your own work is important to a healthy extent; and it’s something every artist goes through, granted, some more than others. Everything passes, and everything is temporary. Extreme insecurity, too.
what do you think?
I’ve been thinking that we need to change things up a little on PUDGE. The old routine is good and all, but I find myself getting terribly, terribly bored. That means, there will be more interviews, more personal approach to people; hopefully, more printed zines from now on - maybe not in radical quantities, but nonetheless. I’m thinking of bringing the performing arts into the magazine. I have a deep respect for musicians, dancers, and actors, and so many of them inspire me and my peers in our own visual work I feel that it should come as a given. What do you think? Are you interested in that? I know very little about how to talk to musicians, dancers, and actors, the former two in particular - mostly because I don’t have that common ground with them that I do with artists of the purely visual medium - I have never tried doing what they do, and I have never been part of that world, so it might be shaky at first, but it will get better with experience.
Also, I had promised myself when I started that I would not put in too much of my own opinions into the magazine. At the time, I felt that it would be too invasive, too forced. I felt that I could be obnoxious. Now, a year and a half later, I think it is necessary to be invasive at times, and I know that I can be obnoxious on some days, but I always say that the most important thing about this magazine is honesty, the pure and heartfelt emotion and admiration you feel when coming across someone truly talented, and if I myself filter so heavily what I can and cannot say as the editor and basically the representative, then what the hell is the point.
More honest e-mails and letters from this moment on. The whole point is connecting - not connecting in the stupid terms of social media, but on a basic human level, one artist to another, a community, if you will.
Starting this Sunday, I going to be introducing the article section of PUDGE. Starting with my own, I have to warn you, again, that I can be soppy and overdramatic, and I can be annoying, I could over share, and I could tell you too much - but it will be honest to what I am feeling at the time, at it will always be about the art world specifically. In other words, there will not be any rants about love, or nostalgia, unless it is directly relevant to the visual (or I guess now also performing) arts. Over some time, perhaps other people will want to join in, and share their opinions, and then the article section will be more diverse, but you have to begin somewhere.
And if you hate it, just don’t check the webpage on a Sunday. It is our lowest traffic day, anyway. Don’t go on our Twitter either, if you don’t like that and are only here for the eye candy you can reblog. Not that there is anything wrong with that - this is more of a personal opinion of where I want to have this magazine go in the long term.
I know it’s quite ironic that I’m posting this on April’s fools, but the day is almost over, and if I don’t tell you this now, I’m afraid I will feel less impulsive tomorrow and decide to stick with the routine.
I just thought I had to let you know. And if you have any feedback, please do e-mail or message me here.
Best wishes always,