“Music is an art and art has its own rules. And one of them is that you must pay more attention to it than anything else in the world, if you are going to be true to yourself. And if you don’t do it - and you are an artist - it punishes you.”
- Nina Simone, Down Beat Magazine, 1968
Being an artist is often times emotionally taxing. I firmly believe that all we are, are vessels for art. We do not get to dictate when we are done putting it out into the world, but it does get to dictate when it no longer wants to use us, whether it be in a specific medium, or just altogether. As I type that, I think of rapper, Andre 3000. He no longer feels “useful” in hip-hop, but he wanders around the world, often spotted by fans, playing a flute. Perhaps art really did have a new use for him. A new way for him to bring joy into the world, and even to himself. Even speaking personally, there’s a specific topic in my life that I feel I’ve written about so much, I’ve run it into the ground. And I feel the need and the urge to no longer write about it. So it’s all been spilling out at random times, and there’s a freedom following the release, instead of trying to force myself to hold it in, and go in a different direction.
Another thing that keeps us so emotionally invested in our art, aside from the art, is the doubt that comes with it. This is a different side of emotionally investing, now. We tend to overthink if it’s good enough to be shared with the public. So we keep the majority of our work to ourselves for years, and for some artists, for good. And I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced the depression that comes with not allowing oneself the freedom to just... release. I know for myself, I’ve sat on completed projects for two years. It was a different sound than what anyone else had heard from me, and I was unaware of how it would be received. But what motivated me to eventually release the body of work was the sentiment of feeling like I was doing a disservice to myself. There was a downcast, after the feeling of “staying comfortable”, for lack of better words.
And now my least favorite emotionally taxing aspect of being an artist, that comes to mind, is the amount of money that goes into it when you’re an independent artist seeking to properly, and successfully market yourself. Especially in this digital age. For example, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook’s algorithms all suck, unless, and even at times, when you’re using their paid options to further the interaction with your work. As an artist, all I want to do is art. But that’s so difficult when a large amount of my income comes from me working a traditional job. So, now I have to split up my time between my art, and my 9 to 5 in order to earn the extra income to properly fulfill the visions that I’ve been given for my art. And not to mention, a lot of artists are also paying their own bills.
All in all... being an artist isn’t easy. From feeling like our art isn’t worthy enough to be shared, to feeling like we don’t have the means in order to succeed in the areas we wish to succeed in. But here’s what I’ll leave you with, say “yes” to yourself. Something I’ve been practicing is giving myself the opportunity to succeed by simply saying “yes.” If that means changing it up, if that means becoming more disciplined in an area of my life that I can properly succeed how I see fit. Whatever it means, just say “yes”. Be obedient to yourself, hear yourself out, in the moment that you do, so that you don’t have to sacrifice later on.
Thank you for indulging in me and my thoughts.
Peace, love, light, and joy to you,
- Christian JaLon