What does it mean to struggle. To actually have to fight for your existence. I am not talking just about art here. I am talking about real struggle. Survival.
I read about half a book supposedly about art and keeping true to yourself as an artist. It occurred to me about a third of the way through the book that these artists weren’t being true to themselves, they were being true to what sold. They were given opportunity after opportunity for big breaks and somehow attempted to warp their art into what they were selling as their unique point of view of the world.
Attending prestigious colleges, going to graduate schools to get art degrees. Meeting and working with famous artists which propelled their careers. If this is a point of view, I don’t fucking want one. I’ll take this little corner of the internet and post my art, sell some prints and be happy at that.
I don’t need to go to school to learn how to make art, or more accurately, make it in the world of art. Fuck the world of art. If you need a fancy degree from a top school and make friends with influential people, well that is not going to happen for me. I will never work for Madonna or write books that get tons of praise. I will probably die without anyone knowing who I am but my friends and family.
Real struggle is pain and darkness and confusion and getting a kind couple in a train station you were sleeping on a bench in to give you 10 bucks so you could get a meal. Struggle is being forced Haldol in the mental ward because you are in a manic psychotic break and threatening the safety of the staff. Struggle is after 5 years of solid medical care and the right mix of medication to find yourself waiting in the drive thru at CVS to find the asshole who waited 10 minutes at the window was waiting for the drive thru to open in 15 minutes because it was closed. Then entering the store and waiting another 15 minutes to get to the counter to have the guy working there they misfiled your meds.
In the middle of a mixed episode when all you want is safety and normalcy and your correct medication to try to get you back on track, to go and read a book filled with stories about artists that were “true to themselves” by having degrees from expensive schools and tons of teachers and mentors to tell them how to think. To market themselves in such a way to have huge success and become half famous. To look at your art and wonder what the fuck are you doing.
That is struggle. And fuck anyone who has never spent a night without a roof over their heads and food in their belly to say they know what struggle is. Fuck actors and musicians in the limelight complaining of their mental illness and talking about it so they can get some special media attention. #PeteDavidson.
When you wish for death, when you can’t tell what is real, when you can’t trust your mind, but don’t even understand that it is lying to you, that is struggle.
But buy your famous artists, buy your fake stories about struggle and an artists point of view given to them by myriad teachers and mentors and influential friends and have your dinner parties and feel good about how much money you spent on this month’s struggling artist. Nothing sells better than a sad story. Everyone wants to feel part of a story of supporting someone in need. What a better way then to spend thousands on an artist with the right marketing and gallery exposure.