Saturday, April 19, 2008

To be an artist, part one.

How to begin? What does it mean to be an artist, whether one is a musician, visual artist, dancer or any other kind of artist?

Any artist is a conduit of continuity. We are the keepers of the flame, the realization of a long chain of traditions passed on to us by our teachers, and their teachers, and their teachers. And the chain goes on. But each generation finds something new in the way they express themselves. Each new generation of artists is born into perhaps a different kind of world than their teachers. History changes, and the world they grow up in is transformed through the element that every artist races against and loathes: Time.

We live in a most highly technological age. But what does that mean for those of us in the arts? Technology is actually a response to the creative desire. Visual artists use computers to generate what they see in their minds. Composers use them to notate their music or generate sounds and patterns previously unheard. And technology brings all the arts together in what we know as multi-media. Technology put a man on the moon, an idea that was for generations considered a fantasy because there was no way to do it 100 years ago. But that fantasy was a very creative thought, and 100 years later it was the marriage between that creative thought and technology that made it possible for man to travel through outer space and actually walk on the moon.

We artists share what we do everyday. We bring beauty to our community, we challenge people to think in different ways and we improve the environment around us.

We sing our songs, tell our stories and paint in bold colors. We also record history. When the cavemen first started recording their lives and the world around them by drawing on cave walls, the traditions of story-telling and art began.

Anyone who solves a problem is an artist. In the business world, successful companies thrive because of creative thinking. And everyone in our world is actually an artist, but they don't know it.

When a person gets dressed in the morning, they choose a favorite tie that looks good with their suit, or a piece of jewelry that enhances their overall image, or a nice looking and comfortable pair of socks. This is creativity, artistic thinking. When we choose what we wear, we are expressing an image to convey during the day. Everyone is an artist, and it is a fundamental part of who we are.

We paint, we dance, we create. It's fundamental. And in that, we carry the history of humanity with us. The creative artist is the one who is involved with "big picture" thinking. We solve problems. But even at the highest levels, we don't arrive with everything done perfectly, but we strive in that never-ending quest for perfection, and that is part of our stimulus.

The most successful business people are creative thinkers. And the most successful artists are the ones who know how to sell their art.

But we fight everyday to be seen and heard. When schools cut budgets, the first thing to go is the arts. That's absolutely absurd, because it is the arts which challenges our thinking. And it is the artist who challenges our thinking because he or she is stimulated to look at the world in new and different ways.

© Alexander Frey, 2008