I once knew this artist. She was an artist in the truest sense. Not because she made a lot of work. Not because she had some enlightened view into society that the commoners (you and I) didn't have. Not even because she had those rayban frames with real prescription lenses inside coupled with a pair of dainty purple stockings. She made work for her, she made work that was totally outside of anyones criticism because it wasn't made for anyone else. And i don't mean your typical run of the mill "OMG I'm just a creative you know, just because, like, if i, like don't make work, I just go crazy!" (quiet vom) NO, she didnt ever tell you she was an artist, she didn't tell you she made work, she didn't tell you about her love affair with art, because it was so personal to her that it did't need your approval. I saw this piece she did, it was just text on a simple piece of textured paper, that said in the most elegantly naive handwriting.
"fuck your art"
that sentiment struck a chord in me. I love the idea that there was no approval for your ongoing time based project, or the painting you started but didn't finish, or the film you had in your mind but needed funding for. She respected your project so much she wanted nothing to do with it, and thats how you should be for hers. I was so jealous that she had that ability. I myself, especially at the time, was (am still) basically a toddler. I see a particular painting technique, or beautifully executed concept accomplished by one of my contemporaries and i essentially want to, throw sand in their face, steal their toys and start crying. I am not proud to admit that, but i feel like that competitive side to me can be both a catalyst for new ideas or be the extra push i need to get through a piece.
but that small child can grow into a festering, boil covered, bearded, middle aged, basement living, threat to your practice if you don't keep it in check. I find the best way to keep that jealousy tasteful is to air it. Tell your artist friends about it, acknowledge its existence and listen to how ridiculous these feelings sound when you voice them. If you keep these feelings to yourself, pretending quietly that you dont have them, they can spread like a virus into your practice. They will squash ideas before they happen because instead of looking at works that previously should have been inspiration, you will now look at them as competition or at the very least a bench mark. You will then turn that poisonous gaze to your own work, hating ideas before they happen and in some cases, as your work is a reflection of you in some ways, you will begin to hate yourself.
So next time it's 2am and you are at a bar with some strangers who bare some vague ressemblance to what people call friends of friends, and one asks you
"So your, like, an artist or something right, do you sell your work? my friend knows Lister"
Take a quiet breath, let that panic of guilt that you haven't completed any work in a week pass. look them directly into the eyes and say.
"Would you like another drink?"
because fuck your art, fuck my art, fuck everyones art. Just try your best to do the thing that you enjoy for yourself the rest will happen when its damn well good and ready. And if per chance it doesn't, thats ok too, admiration or lack there of is not a reflection of your worth.