Roughly eight out of ten times, the one thing that I know is that I don’t know what the hell it is that I’m doing. It’s all trial and error, a struggle. Of the remaining two times, I believe that I know but I’m flat wrong on one, and I actually do know yet I’ll blow it on the other. Once in awhile though, I nail it. Success is a numbers game. More attempts yield more errors, but also yield more successes. And frankly, errors are beautiful anyway. So it doesn’t even matter that you don’t know what you’re doing. It will unfold for you if you continue to try.
Most everything we do, most of our lives, is woefully misdirected. On your deathbed, looking back, what will you cherish? The long hours at work? The stuff you bought? Will you regret not having made more art? Or made better art? Or seen more art? No. Hours clocked, belongings, even art, they’re stand-ins.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters deeply, the genuinely significant thing, is the love you share with the person lying next to you, or maybe the love you have for a person who no longer does, or for your kids, or your family, or your friends. That’s it. That’s where true content lies. Art, at it’s best, can only ape this. All the rest, they’re sorry decoys. Smoke and mirrors. Don’t let them get over on you.
No matter what, you are a legitimate artist. It is not necessary to produce salable objects. Unless, perhaps, you feel a need to prove yourself. Should you carry that cross, art-making becomes radically more complicated. Don’t buy into that hustle. It will stymie your clearest expression. It’s an obstacle that you don’t want. You are a legitimate artist.
The substantive idea is the art. Objects will let you down. Thoughts, feelings, actions, the moment, they’re ephemeral and visceral at once. That’s what art is, just as that’s what life is. And they’re really one and the same. That our art affects those who experience it, that our existence affects those who experience it, that’s all anyone can hope for. In art, as in life, it’s the content, the idea, that trumps everything else.