One of the hardest things to admit to myself over the years has been the fact that I am an artist. Why? Fear of rejection? Fear of other “artists” not agreeing with me? A perception that I needed to be corporate? Thinking that my art wasn’t real art? You know… Writing isn’t art. Singing isn’t art. Acting isn’t art. Comedy isn’t art… or the fact that my performances were not art.
I’ve always been a fairly buttoned down person on the exterior while my mind has run rampant with creativity. So I’ve never really felt comfortable in the artist crowd. Nor have I fit in with the more mainstream community either. Of course most of this is my perception. It’s really not about how others see me. It’s about how I see myself.
Recently I was called a Renaissance Man. I found it humorous. I’d never really thought of myself that way, but there may actually be a morsel of truth there. I explored this term a little further because I wanted to know if this description had any veracity. Some of the things I found to describe a Renaissance Man were Polymath, Leonardo DaVinci, Homo Universalis (Latin for “universal man” or “man of the world”), and Jack of all trades. That last one really hits home, and I’m not so sure I like it considering that the common saying is, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
While a Renaissance Man is an expert in many disciplines, the Jack of all trades can be described as extremely capable in many fields but not particularly an expert. Renaissance Man seems to be a kinder label. A label that not only covers the traditional arts, but other areas of skill and knowledge. To me, it seems that the point of a Renaissance Man is to approach every practice as an art. To approach it with energy, passion, and confidence.
Where I’ve failed as a Renaissance Man is that I’ve always held myself back. I’ve been afraid that I might not be as good as I hope. I haven’t trusted my teachers. Again it’s an issue of perception. Just like my self-imposed perception of being inferior when I would speak with a respected artist. I often would feel as though they were talking down to me. I’ve decided that I no longer have to feel inferior. Sure I may not be as knowledgeable about styles of painting or a specific sculptor, but that is not my art. My art is writing and performing, so wouldn’t it make sense for me to be knowledgeable about techniques in these disciplines? And I am. In fact, I have one of the highest ranked websites on sitcom writing according to Google.
Writing The Starving Artist’s Diet opened my eyes. I reached out to so many artists because I felt they could bring an added dimension to the book that I could not have done alone. What I found interesting was that many were eager to participate and contribute. I also found a few who thought they were too good for the book. What I love about this book is that it isn’t pretentious. It let’s us laugh at ourselves and then in a way also encourage ourselves to press on. It’s about survival. It’s about the human condition. Pain without laughter is just pain. But pain with laughter will lead to joy. Artists create because they have to. It is a fulfillment of who they were created to be. It’s hard to be an artist. Most artists are underappreciated. Many are afflicted with emotional distress or came from broken homes and painful childhoods. Their art helps them recover and conquer that which afflicts them. And the artist’s audience helps the artist heal.
I guess one of the reasons I never claimed the moniker of “artist” was that I didn’t want to be judged. But why should I have ever cared? I don’t know why, but I did. I guess that’s just the plight of an artist. Being judged. Ultimately, I want to not care. I want to just be myself, but that is very risky and potentially devastating to the financial bottom line.
I can’t say that I’ll be a different person from this point forward, but I’m going to try and not be afraid of claiming that I’m an artist. It’s true. I am. I write, act, and sing. I’ll let everyone else be the judge of how well I do any of those things. But being an artist is not about talents, skills, clothes, or attitude. It is a state of mind. You are who you are.
Are you an artist? What is your art? Do you treat all your work as a masterpiece? Art is not limited to paintings and sculptures. It’s not limited to dance or music. Art can be whatever you do depending on how you approach it. It’s a mixture of skill, passion, and determination. It’s the thing you do to fulfill who you were created to be.
I am a Renaissance Man. More than a Jack of all trades. I am an artist.