Good Enough – Hopefully Not

In art, it is never OK to be good enough. It is never all right to decide to get by. No artist who is truly an artist is interested in being ordinary.

An artist is someone who views life through a unique perspective, one that cannot be shared with anyone else in exactly the same way. An artist illuminates some aspect of life, shedding new light and new insight so that others may come to appreciate it in a manner that would otherwise not be possible. Any artist who is truly an artist will ever seek that which is over the next hill and valley, the path untrod, the new and challenging, until they no longer are capable of creating.

To be an artist is to tread a lonely path. While the outside world can give support or condemnation, it can bestow accolades or criticisms, it cannot tell an artist what to create or not to create. The artist is bound to make whatever arises from inner inspiration. In being true to herself, an artist is compelled to bring forth that which must be given existence, and will often overcome monstrous obstacles to see that the creative end product is birthed according to her passionate vision.

You can study. You can develop skill and craft. You can have excellent mentors and guides. You can have multiple influences along the way but no one can motivate you to confront yourself and your own limitations, your foibles, your fears and your lacks. No one can give you the courage to keep on keeping on no matter how discouraged. Outsiders cannot make you keep your skills and talents in top shape, nor to trust others to seek their thoughts about your work. It cannot prevent you from falling victim to praise, sucking you into the abyss of your own self-admiration, fooling you into thinking that you are more significant because the world has congratulated you. This is, perhaps, the greatest horror of all.

It is very easy to be complacent and to take the easy way out. It is, sadly, in our culture, all too often the case that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. That means, in this case, that the people who can manage to get lots of “followers” on Twitter or “likes” on Facebook can be noticed by that alone, becoming “famous” even though they may have absolutely nothing of value to contribute to the world. These people are not truly artists even though they may become “celebrities” — famous for being famous.

If you are a vocalist, you cannot really hide. If you have something to say, musically and vocally, you must find a way to say it. You will have to “pay your dues” by studying with the best teachers you can find, seeking out ways to learn and grow through performances and by seeking to be as uniquely yourself as possible. Then, when you are “older” you will be able to look back to realize that you left behind a new path, one that others may follow until they find a better one of their own. You might even discover that you went where you never dreamed you would go. You might smile and decide that you were, in the end, an artist after all.

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