Death is absolute, permanent, it stops everything. No more life, no more art – unless there really is that big darkroom in the sky. I am losing two friends as I write these suddenly misty, somewhat out of focus words, and it hurts. Life is unfair, the art world is out of balance, selfishness is rampant, and death sucks. Death is a great re-evaluator when you are not the one dying. It sure as hell puts a different perspective on life, time, spontaneity, and daily chores.
The death of one’s art is often metaphorically referred to as a “wall”. When you hit the proverbial wall of non-productivity, zero creativity, and empty ideas, you die as an artist. And you don’t come back at Easter. If you have been paying attention, however, if you have heeded the warnings, if you have listened to the echoes of nothingness within yourself, if you have watched other artists wither and disappear, then perhaps you have protected yourself artistically? Perhaps you know the value of that “other” place, that “safe” place that some artists go to produce their very personal, experimental work. Not necessarily destined for the world’s eyes, no pressure of expectations and/or imposed deadlines, from the dedicated heart, so important for survival. Just work that you want to do, that is all yours, your playful visions, your crazy “what-ifs”, your personal projects that keep you alive, breathing, and growing as an artist, no matter what else is going on.
If you do not know what I am talking about, you need to re-evaluate your creative process and ask how do you keep yourself fresh, motivated, driven, challenged, alive, energetic and thoughtful enough to continue to create and come up with new ideas, new points of view, new subject matter? How do you protect that part of yourself? Are you the machine that drives your art or does the world drive it while you are running along side, until you hit the brick and mortar?
One must strike some kind of balance between expectation, stress, and pressure and his/her own ways of defusing and finding release, yet still producing art. This balance can be your salvation and survival as an artist. Always be working on something for yourself. No one can take that away. That is perpetuating your life as an artist. Think about how you will survive, not die, as an artist and what you will be working on. Then do it, regularly. It is your insurance policy against your early artistic demise.
It is possible to bring back your art. You can’t bring back your friends.