Apr 21, 2021
3 mins read
I posted a reel on Instagram last Friday. I wanted to join the celebrations for the 5th birthday of United Art Space. I'm not an active member as I was in the beginnings, but I still owe them a good part of why I am here trying to pursue an art career.
The prompt for the first day of celebration was to post an image or selfie with the sentence "I am an artist". The aim was to flood the social media with artists and their art. I'm posting here the Instagram link where I've written a longer caption about it:
In this post I want to focus more on the video and on the thoughts running in my head when performing. A bit of behind the scene: I filmed this video in my room using the rear camera. That means I couldn't see what I was doing, there was no mirror behind my phone, I had to trust myself and my self-knowledge of my face. Using the front camera would've resulted in the sentence "I am an artist" (the main focus and the reason why this video exists) mirrored, and I wanted it to be read clearly and immediately. The video is slightly sped-up (1.5x) to have the same duration as the song, while the Instagram reel is way much faster (12x). I chose the song when publishing the reel, "Vincent" by Don McLean came to my mind almost immediately. Being a song very famous that talks about the struggles endured by Van Gogh during his life to be recognised as an artist, I thought it matched pretty well my feelings while shooting the video. Some people could think it's a marketing move to be found easily on the internet, but I don't really care, this song spoke to me because I felt exactly in the same way described by its lyrics.
I start writing "I'm an artist" on my forehead with a bit of hesitation, I'm writing from right to left and this add some difficulty to my already existing doubt about saying out loud that affirmation. Then, I doodle all over my face, I'm doodling tears falling from my right eye, a cloud on the eyelid, a paper boat in a stormy sea, another cloud and the rain pouring. Moving to the left side, here's a mustache, a flower, a grid on the eyelid, a couple of stars and another flower. Tracing a spiral under my chin and another pattern. The last drawing is a question mark on my nose.
What does it all mean?
It means that on social media we all pretend that being an artist is so cool, we've got the passion, the talent, the calling, and a million other words that fed the stereotype of being a job too good to be true, because artists have so much fun creating their art that it's impossible to consider it a job. We love being artists! Happy faces, happy dances, lots of love.
Being an artist, becoming an artist is a job and a struggle, like any other job. Talent is overrated. You can have an artistic attitude, but very few artists are born with the ability to draw like Raffaello (mentioning Picasso here). The rest of us study, practice everyday, put a lot of blood, sweat and tears. The final result conceals all the previous exercises and failed attempts. There are a million doubts, comparisons, frustrations, tiredness, creative blocks, and some times lack of money and opposition from your family, friends, partners and the whole society. Making art isn't easy. You become an artist, it's a long process. It's tough and it leaves me drained, some days I hate being an artist and having to practice and show up on social media. I've had a formal fine arts education in Italy, and when I graduated I didn't feel an artist, I still had miles to walk before I could feel an artist, actually I'm not even sure I'll ever get to the finish line. The question mark at the end of the video is strong and carries more questions: am I an artist? Who decides that? How to define an artist? Are there any measurable parameters that could help me to discern?
I'm leaving here these questions and personal reflection, I'd appreciate if you'd like to add something or discuss them any further.