Everyone I know likes to win, games, contests, lotteries or almost anything. Winning makes us believe the universe or the (G)god or gods we believe in have noticed us. More, not only have they noticed us, they approve. I’ve never quite grasped the concept that some supreme being, responsible for the entire universe, spared much thought for me, but there you have it.
For me, winning money or prizes is great for the surprise factor alone. Day to day existence may seem, at times, repetitive and unchanging. Surprise helps us stay focused. However, winning because of something I’ve thought, done or created makes me feel proud and happy. As an artist and writer, it makes me feel validated. And this may be something as simple as someone following your blog.
But what does this mean in a world of media proliferation and instant access? Initially, it is all of the above, joy, surprise, validation, a good feeling. As an artist or other creative individual, it provides credibility. Early days for me, since I started painting and other art later in life. When and if I have my art accepted into juried shows, in a physical or online gallery, it says to me that I do have some business pursuing art.
Long ago, artists needed a rich patron, a king, doge, or pope perhaps. As long as he, or very occasionally she, kept this benefactor happy, they had a place to live, a studio, models, food, wine and access to other important people and the consequent dalliances and intrigues. If they fell out of favor, they needed to load their equipment, supplies and other worldly goods and make haste elsewhere, sometimes in the dead of night.
Over time, as more people, prospered and made money and gained status, such as the Dutch at the time their traders owned the seaways. The middle class aspired to what had previously been only the privilege of the rich, art. The influx of money and the early Renaissance conspired to create a multitude of fine artists. Anyone who aspired to be respected and envied and emulated could not fail to have art in their home.
Wars, art theft, art destruction and hoarding forced collectors to rethink their view of art. Rich and powerful people became more civic minded. They became philanthropists. Whether this was a result or attempt to ignore how they had acquired their fortunes, to gain legitimacy, is not germane here. Some of these endowed museums and other public venues too provide art and culture to a wider audience.
This is all well and good, but where does that leave the vast majority of the artists alive today. There are living artists who have gained recognition and sales to the point that their product supports their pursuit. Often being dead will drive up the price of an artist’s work, but it hardly benefits the artist. Even many artists we now consider masters starved or depended on friends and family to keep body and soul together.
So, what does this all have to do with winning? For me, a two-pronged jolt brought me to consider this question. Combined with my mood, it seemed like a good topic to explore. I felt invisible, which I wrote about previously in Invisible Avatar, would be the short answer. However, I had won the ArtQuenchGallery.com “SUMMER” contest and my blog, The Pen’s Might had been nominated for the ShineOn award by a blogger I follow, Taylor Eaton of Little Write Lies. (I’m still unclear in this case whether being nominated is the same as winning, but close enough, and I highly recomend Taylor’s blog). It would be one thing if I sought to be the next great whomever or whatever. I simply wanted to be noticed. And I obviously have been noticed, some. So, what’s my problem?
My logic runs like this. If you don’t keep getting noticed, you don’t get mentioned. If you don’t get mentioned, you can’t create a buzz. If you can’t create a buzz, your chance of selling artwork online is extremely limited. Therefore, you feel invisible and feel you will continue to feel invisible. Apparent, at least to me, is that what notice I’ve received has not created any comment, because I haven’t sold any art online. While selling is not mandatory, it’s a great deal better than a sharp poke in the eye. So we continue putting our creative nose to the proverbial grindstone.
Still, on our good days, we believe our art, writing, music or whatever creative endeavor, is good, important, original and worthy. On our bad days, we’re positive we’re hacks, poseurs, mountebanks and frauds whose creative output will be piled on the smelly garbage heap of history. We will continue to create. We have no choice, no matter how painful having our creative nose to the grindstone feels. Hopefully others will see the blood, sweat, tears and pain we invest in your art, our life, and it will transform them into fans, into customers.
If you truly have no talent (less likely) or continue to be unrecognized and unsuccessful, eventually, you will grind your creative proboscis away on the world’s obdurate grindstone. Once this happens, you can go blithely on your way, since you will no longer be able to smell the stink. And believe me, for those driven to create, this is a victory no matter how small. Still, to paraphrase something I heard about having money: I’ve won and I’ve lost. Winning’s better.