|Detail of "Fool" - Watercolor, Ink - by Johnny Perez, 2007|
We hear it all our lives as young artists...
Don't be an artist! You'll starve! You'll be poor! You'll never make it, it's too competitive!I mean its not entirely wrong, but starting out is hard for most people, and giving up too early is a common thing. I was lucky to have an encouraging family, and the fact that I grew up poor most of my life somehow made it ok or rather doable to live with no money. So if I wanted to pursue a career with no money but I was happy, then I was confident I could still live, even if it was on nothing. It really comes down to a matter of perspective for me.
I want to be real for a moment to say that I'm not some crazy successful artist, but neither do I consider myself less of an artist because I'm not "known." I don't pretend to be more than I am, but I do choose to look at the bright side. I do choose to think of myself as capable. And I choose to define success as a never ending goal to better myself. In that regard it is hard to lose. I am faced with the same challenges as most in the world, there is always someone out there better than you, and there is always someone out there more successful than you. So what? Am I just supposed to quit?
|"Melancholy" - Watercolor, Ink, Paper - by Johnny Perez, 2007|
I was sure I was more adept at rendering some things than others, but there was always someone better. And the flip side of that is, I realized that even someone who didn't render "realistically" did not make their art "bad", in fact it enhanced its interest even more! I became jealous of the fact that what I once thought of as "bad art" was in fact really good and far more interesting. It wasn't bad at all. I just didn't know enough as an artist to realize how good it was. I bought into the notion as a child, that "good" could only mean as detailed, or as real as something could look. I'm happy that I learned better, and not to mention what a relief it was to know art was not so one-sided and narrow. It is as expressive as any one person's imagination will allow.
I know I'm pretty much ranting at this point, but I just want to drive home an idea, and sort of, release this burden a little by reminding myself of why I'm doing this. And maybe ease some mental anguish on your part if anything I'm saying helps you. I don't have to be an artist to experience the hardships of life. Life is hard. And I don't have to be wildly successful to know peace of mind or to escape problems. It's important to note here that the present is all that really matters. But that doesn't mean that the past or future are not factors. Learn from the past, and prepare for the future, but act now. Be happy with where you are as an artist, but don't stop trying to get better. That process will never end as I mentioned above. Enjoy your current state and lifestyle, because mo' money mo' problems as they say. But by then you can handle it with some preparation and research.
You will have to work twice as hard as other people content with their lives working for someone else. Those people are probably doing what they want, and are happy. But I could never be them. It may be self-torture but on some level the tortured artist is real, and this could be why. We can't be content with everyday life. We must work toward our dreams to feel a sense of purpose. And we have to work twice as long and twice as hard to get half as far as other people. And maybe we get lucky and get a boost! But if not we keep working. So what if I'm seasons behind on Game of Thrones. So what if I haven't finished playing Diablo III yet. So what if my desk never gets clean and organized! I mean Life will go on, and as long as I did something creative today, the itch is satisfied. It's not that bad. I know it's cliche, but other people DO have it worse.
|Insanity - Watercolor - by Johnny Perez, 2009|