"Like an eagle I will soar above the clouds, I will spread my wings and fly into the sun. Like an eagle I will race above the stars, I will fly to places yet unseen, Go beyond my wildest dreams, Know that you are watching over me."
Every person who has bought my art had a different reason - excepting one. It's different. Different to anything else that they've experienced, created for different reasons, made them feel something different. And while I usually have a very clear perspective on why I created a work, I prefer to leave room for the audience to find something in it for themselves. As a result, I have a very select audience, a small group of people who support my art because there is no direct reference to anything in ordinary life, but a direct relevance to them personally. Being online and honored to know some wonderful artists, I see their following grow, the interest in their art inspires commentary - I get very little of that, and more personal and direct messages, people wanting a more personalized experience with me, far from the stares of the crowd. I've been told that people are afraid of being judged for their tastes, for having an interest in something that is outside of normal reality. Which is fair - a feeling I fully understand given how much people judge me for my art. People don't comment on my links, click like, or show that they've even seen the page - except that I know they've been there thanks to online analytics. Other artists appreciate my work - my peer experience in the Red Bubble community has more than proven that for me. Yet I don't feel the ambition to become a 'name' - I haven't found that taste for celebrity or limelight. For the world at large, it would take the recognition of some established institution to tell them about my art - the right gallery, the right magazine, the right award - none of which I believe in. I've never accepted that people should buy my art because someone else told them to, I have never wanted to be a figure in the art world - and I have paid the price for that, certainly. However, it's been my observation that folks who rely on institutions become an institution - I won't leave this life knowing that I was moulded into a form to suit an audience. I'm already aware of how the online influence has affected my thinking - fortunately I recognized it before I became reliant on the word of the herd.
I've recently been spending less time online deliberately, to see whether or not there was a direct influence from what I was observing through the internet and how it was affecting my creativity - the answer was that, yes, there was an influence, and not a very inspiring one. I was becoming blocked and restricted in my thinking, my emotional responses and my imagination. It's not because the internet is a negative space - it is that people need guidelines and rules and methods established to know how to operate online, and I find that kind of dependence allows people to become limited in their ideas of what people 'should' do and 'should' say.
Freedom of expression is massively important if you're an artist, and if you're going to be second-guessing yourself constantly in order to fit in - well, let's just say, I don't fit in.
My art is extremely dependent on the state of my soul - and the constant box-like thinking of the Internet began to influence me negatively. So I'm not a cyberstar - it wasn't an ambition of mine to become one. I want to create art that affects people, not follow the 10 Rules of Successful Twitter relationships or how to expand my network on the 3 Forces of Social Media - I don't want to manipulate people, just interact with them. It then becomes no surprise to me that the majority of people who want to know about my art contact me personally; I give to them, not to their image. I don't just sell my art - I have a personal relationship with my buyers.
I think the greatest irony is that I have a background in sales and marketing - yet I'm not driven to use it in my art. I'm a person first, and an artist second. I won't give into the pressure to become a social success because it will make me materially acceptable.
I love using the internet, I meet stacks of wonderful people, and learn about their personal experiences, their work and their ethic - in the interactive experience, I've found my time online to have been relatively uplifting and stimulating. It's when people begin dictating to others how they should think, feel and communicate that I begin to switch off - there's nothing inspired about living in a box.
In other words, I have achieved what I set out to do - I'm not as interested in my legend as much as I am my legacy. And when I meet people who want to know about the art, not me, I am reminded that's why I became an artist on the first place. People may be attracted to glamour, but it's the love of the spirit that endures. It's why I remain in the subterranean world of art, not just the underground. I have a personality, not a persona. Thus I am even more grateful for the honesty of those who support my art - they do so because they are moved by the art, not by their belief that I should be a caged animal performing tricks for the masses.
My art requires a suspension of the rules, even the broken rules; the willingness to discover the self, not the reflection of what the world wants us to be. What the real world is unwilling to accept without cliches and mainstream revolution, it holds null and void. But those few, those precious few, who are willing to immerse themselves in self-discovery and relate to what is inside THEM.....I love that they are prepared to go there, to go to places yet unseen, go beyond their wildest dreams.....above the stars.....
I know how many people read this blog. None will comment. Anger makes people comment, fear makes them argue, and flattery gets them attention. Assent is assumed by silence, so here, in the blessed silence, I continue to toil and thrive in the knowledge that my audience desires to be, not to be seen.