Art vs Commerce
“Consistency is the death of good acting”-Michael Shurtleff.
“...it’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success.”-The Rock
The problem with being an artist today is that were often told to do contradictory things.
Though I realize that the two quotes above could look like I’m taking a dig at The Rock, nothing could be further from the truth. I think that both quotes are correct.
People often confuse consistency with repetition or sameness.
Once you you have a piece of art that gets notice, it is tempting to repeat yourself. This is my style, my signature, etc. Actors who play the same characters over and over, Painters painting the same thing over and over. This is the “death” that Shurtleff was talking about.
However; consistent practice, consistent periodic risk taking is pure gold.
The thing is , only you can tell where you are at.
Obviously, if you are learning (or even composing) a piece on the piano it will take more than one try to make it art.
At at the moment I paint nothing but landscapes, because I am not consistent in my technique. One day the trees are awful, another day they are great but my water looks off.
But if I have perfected nature scenes with cabins and lights and I just repeat them ad nauseam so I can make a buck; I am no longer making art. I am making a product.
And that is not inherently evil. Pleasing people with pleasant beauty is not the worst thing that you could contribute to the world. But it kills your growth as an artist. You get comfortable. You ”know” your style, you know what works.
And the worst thing happens. You get bored.
I have done this several times. It felt like self sabotage at the time but I’m betting that you didn’t get into the arts for the money.
So now what? Do you have to choose between eating and being an artist?
I don't think so. I think that if you aim for constant growth and you challenge your audience to grow with you, you can achieve balance.
Now this wont always work. Some of my favorite art has been from mainstream artists trying something new and pissing off their fans.
They crashed and burned.
But I bet you that the next thing they did was so much better because of it.
Maybe there isn’t a market for what you do. Maybe you have to create it yourself.Maybe you have to drag other people out of their comfort zones.And Maybe that’s what makes you an artist.