Multifaceted and confused (aka being an extreme hobbyist)
Originally published via Wordpress July 11, 2018.
Just yesterday I wrote a post that touched on -you guessed it- being multifaceted and confused. I posted a photo of a stack of collages on my Instagram and asked the audience their opinion on what they'd like to see more of on my feed. Not that it really matters since I'm not like any big influencer or social media personality but sometimes its just fun to ask questions, right? so this got me thinking: where is the line between creating content and making post to please an audience and gain following, and asking direct questions which merit response to better serve you as an artist? Is it prostituting your skills to make art that is liked and sells? Or is it better understanding your demographic so you can better understand your relationship with your audience?
I have always struggled with this a bit. Bring a jack of all trades, I have never liked the second part of that phrase - "a master of none." It makes me feel like its a bad thing to be multifaceted in my interests and want to stretch horizontally across the floor. I deeply respect when someone can dive straight down as deep as they can go into a study (like painting, or illustration- especially the super anatomically correct drawings with crisp clean lines but not overly rigid vibe AL;SDKF;S so good- but for some reason I've always been a stretcher. Rolling across the floor in search of the next open space. I recently realized that is a perfect metaphor how how I feel about my interests. I explore the space of one and then when I need to move on I roll on over to the next space where I can stretch a limb and catch up.
I used to try to fight it, trying to keep myself super disciplined in one area because I thought "that's what I need to do to be a proper painter," which never even really worked out anyways. Because despite the type of artist that I wanted to be, when as I moved down to Greenville, South Carolina, I wasn't spending my time Google-drooling over the relationship between the expressive blocks of color the paintings of Jenny Saville's paintings or the seductive, gestural lines and pure kinetic energy of her drawings. I was trying to figure out how I could make and sell art, and somehow wound up painting alot of paintings of Greenville - even after I stopped selling them. I was also working odd jobs, going on trips, and trying to watch as many 80's sci-fi or other classic B rated flicks as I could to help me write a story that I had somehow got myself involved with. Basically I was super unorganized and couldn't get it together.
So back to the whole jack and maser thing. It always made me feel a little bit guilty about having so many interests; like I'm not doing justice to any of them by not giving one enough attention to see where it could go. I'd see people doing it and couldn't help but feel a little bit envious.
"How nice would it be to have that kind of relationship with --Insert Art of Choice--??"
And then I'd try to focus on only one area of my hobbies and cut off the rest, which only really made me feel angsty and incomplete. If you want to think of it as "phantom limb," I might as well be an octopus! It's still a mess to keep up with all of the limbs. My ongoing indecision of whether to major in Painting or Fibers & Material Studies in college is a perfect example of this FOMO. Every time I would go too far in one direction, I got scared I was missing something within the other. Like, deeply scared so much that I would completely doubt my current direction and go back to square 1 and reroute. So while for a long time I struggled to understand and prioritize my interests in photography, modeling, direction, painting, fibers, writing, and movement, in the end I realize I am just a happier human when I am in some way doing it all.
The glamour of social media has made it really easy for us to see people successfully doing their thing and making a living or even a life doing it. Yes, social media is amazing for inspiring and connecting, but can also be quite destructive to confidence and a realistic approach of building your success from within. Eventually I just had to accept - some people are just very serious about painting. Canvas, material close-ups, details, pigments, scrapings. That is their world as they wish to show it. Still, other people are passionate about modeling and working with creatives and photographers to construct concepts.
As I bounce from craft to craft, I recognize I am none of these. I am the sum of all of my parts, and I am larger than the sum of my parts. In order for me to continue to find and truly connect with my tribe, I must whole-heartedly embrace all of my talents, passions, and directions, trusting that there is a reason for each and every one of them. And I urge you, if you feel this way too to do the same. Don't try to fit yourself into an ice cube tray if you are a multi-dimensional flaming star-shaped turkey. Let your squawk be heard from every angle and you will surely find your magical turkey friends.
With this I leave you, and goodnight!