*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Most artists desire recognition, and the persistent lack of it may be a bitter pill to swallow. The artist who is too-soon recognized, as Norman Mailer felt himself to be, might argue that early fame is harder on the artist than years of obscurity. But the composer with a score for a powerful symphony locked away in his drawer, and the actress who has never found a way into a great drama, are hard-pressed to agree with Mailer. Similarly, the painter who has her entire output of paintings to enjoy for herself because she cannot sell them may praise her fortitude and applaud her accomplishments, but still experiences great sadness.
If you are not honored with real, appropriate recognition, you struggle not to consider yourself a failure. You may argue that it is the world that has failed you… but it is hard to take comfort in that knowledge. You need recognition more than you need accurate understanding of why recognition has eluded you. And as you deal, during your years in the trenches, with what may turn out to be a maddingly insufficient lack of recognition, you are challenged to find ways of maintaining your faith, courage, good cheer, and emotional equilibrium.
Eric Maisel, A Life in the Arts: Practical Guidance and Inspiration for Creative and Performing Artists
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
My final day at the magic shop [in Disneyland, where he worked as a teenager], I stood behind the counter where I had pitched Svengali decks and the Incredible Shrinking Die, and I felt an emotional contradiction: nostalgia for the present. Somehow, even though I had stopped working only minutes earlier, my future fondness for the store was clear, and I experienced a sadness like that of looking at a photo of an old, favorite pooch. It was dusk by the time I left the shop, and I was redirected by a security guard who explained that a photographer was taking a picture and would I please use the side exit.
I did, and saw a small, thin woman with hacked brown hair aim her large-format camera directly at the dramatically lit castle, where white swans floated in the moat underneath the functioning drawbridge. Almost forty years later, when I was in my early fifties, I purchased that photo as a collectible, and it still hangs in my house. The photographer, it turned out, was Diane Arbus. I try to square the photo’s breathtaking romantic image with the rest of her extreme subject matter, and I assume she saw this facsimile of a castle as though it were a kitsch roadside statue of Paul Bunyan. Or perhaps she saw it as I did: beautiful.
Quoted by A.D. Coleman in Photocritical, May 28, 2014, from Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin
Comments are welcome!