When an artist is rude, most ordinary people tend to treat it as a sign of his or her artiness. Artistically talented people are often labeled as great individuals of extraordinary minds which tell them to behave in a shocking and unusual way, so everything they do is justified, because they are Creators, the creative process involves unleashing all their emotions, reaching the deepest depths of their miraculous mind in order to discover the perennial rights of the Universe and twist them around to make recipients go “whoa!”. Even if they are rude, it’s okay, since they must go through emotional torment and feel the existential pain all the time.
I had this conversation with my mate today. We were going to leave those tones of food and drinks for the New Year’s Eve in our friend’s house, because the party will take place there. Everyone in the car wondered if we were going to get into his house, because if no one apart from him was home, our friend might have not let us in as he was “busy”. I was astonished.
‘So what is so important that doesn’t let him open us the door?’ I asked.
‘He’s drawing’, replied Loro.
‘Wow, really?’ This was something new for me. ‘I didn’t know he could draw very well. I saw some quick drawing he did, but I had no idea he’s so much into it…’
‘Well, he can draw very well! You must see his works, they are amazing. And he’s drawing right now, you know-‘, said Loro with a meaningful tone of voice.
‘And what is he drawing so intensively?’, I kept quizzing him as I started to feel quite weird about it all.
‘Planes and cars’, he said hesitantly.
‘Uhm… So why would he not open us the door?’ I couldn’t understand the connection between drawing a plane and not being able to get to the door.
‘He’s a true artist, you know. He’s artistic in every aspect, once he starts creating-‘, he stopped for a while, and added, ‘his behavior is just very artistic’.
‘What? Nooo, please, this is an exaggeration!’ I exclaimed, but then I found that it explains some of this ‘artist’s’ behaviors - he treats his girlfriend very badly. One moment he’s the most romantic and devoted boyfriend in the world and in a minute he suddenly becomes grumpy, uncouth and spurns her. It’s worse than a teenager in her period. Then I reflected on what I’d just heard again…
‘But I’m an artist too. You all know that I draw, paint and photograph, sometimes even write, but when I create, I am able to stop for a moment to do something really important, like opening the bloody door!’
‘But you are not a real artist-‘
‘See, that’s the difference between you…’. He was trying to put it mildly, and it was a good move, because I was sitting close enough to do something bad to him. I could see he was trying not to say it straight out, but no matter how he would have said it, he couldn’t change the message - and everything inside me was already boiling. ‘You do all these things, but you are not artistic.’
‘Huh? So you don’t know me well enough!’ As he didn’t say anything, I added, ‘I am an artist, but I’m the absent-minded type’, which can be true. At least this is how I always jocularly try to explain my absent-mindedness and being late for everything apart from school.
‘Oh no, you’re not. It doesn’t work this way. You just don’t understand. He is a true artist.’
It was enough for me. I didn’t want to have my say about his art, because I hadn’t seen it and I didn’t want to offend anyone, but I wouldn’t call him an artist just because he can draw planes and cars. Of course it’s great that he can, but if this is the only thing he is actually able to draw well, then he is just… someone who likes drawing planes and cars. I won’t call him an artist until he shows me that he can draw also a flower, as well as a human figure. In this case I will take back everything I write here. But just the fact that he can resemble a couple of straight lines on paper and that he sometimes doesn’t give a damn about the ones he claims he loves doesn’t make him a truly artistic person. Especially the second condition. From what Loro told me in this conversation I infer that in his opinion only bad-mannered individuals have the right to be called artists. Even if someone creates paintings as good as those painted by Matejko or Rembrandt (who in private as well as met by canvas behaved like so-called ordinary people), they can’t be artists until they aren’t rude. If they offend you and treat you like a piece of shit, then well, you should fall on your knees and worship them, as they are the ones who lighten up your gray existence.
Once again, bullshit.
The other day I saw an interview with some writer who had just published his book, which turned out to be splendid. And it wasn’t anything that would require a lot of research, like a scientific textbook, no. It was a fully artistic story (I have no idea what about, sorry) which required nothing more than a delicate soul and fertile imagination. The writer joked that he didn’t resemble an artist at all, rather an office worker, because while he was writing, he was following a strict schedule - he would wake up and eat breakfast, then start writing at 9 and finish at 16, no matter what. It took him 9 months and now he did nothing, as he treated the period after publishing the book as holiday. There were some questions to his friends or members of his family, asking them to confirm or deny the writer’s words or to tell what he is like in private, is he really always so calm and regular in his work? They said yes - the man who had written such a touching book is in fact a boring guy who happened to have an interesting story to tell and who can do it in an amazing way. So isn’t he an artist? Is he too peaceful to be called one? If he’s not an artist, then who is he?
Of course there are examples of famous painters who were bastards, or those who used their rage to create shocking images that opened eyes of the public, or there was that popular motive of lone artistic souls whom nobody could understand or put up with, as their personalities were just too complicated and they ended up behaving too outrageously to fit in, so they had to live alone (eventually with the least appropriate person who was fucked up enough not to care about the artist’s weirdness), creating breathtaking pieces of art, going mad and finally dying, leaving their masterpieces to the next generations so that they can regret excluding such a rich yet difficult personality from the society and decide not make the same mistake again. Yes, I’m making digs to van Gogh. I don’t want to condemn him. He’s one of my favorite painters and I feel sorry for him. But maybe cases such as his make society feel guilty. And because of trying to avoid such mistakes in the future (mistakes leading to tragic deaths and suicides) we make another mistake, which is tolerating too much misbehavior, justifying it with having an ‘artistic soul’ or being a ‘true artist’, as Loro put it today.
So if I am just an ill-mannered motherfucker who doesn’t give a fuck about people’s feelings, the only thing I have to do is to learn to draw (or paint, or carve) even only a single item and I will have an excuse for everything. I’ll gain the right to treat everyone like a piece of shit and not only won’t they protest, but they will be delighted to associate with an extraordinary person.
I think it’s a matter of stereotypes. As I said before, an unexplainable image of a moody rude artist exists, and stereotypes are not easy to erase, which only proves how stupid (or thoughtless, if you require more political correctness) people are - stereotypes make them stop thinking. Instead, stereotypes themselves do all the thinking. And sometimes it’s enough to just reflect on things for more than a second to find out how obviously wrong they are. My friend, who said this bullshit about true artists, considers himself a philosopher. So he should think. Instead, he let a stereotype think for him. It’s a shame for a philosopher to follow popular paths, especially for someone like him, as he’s proud to say, ‘fuck the system’ and oppose to the majority’s opinion. Actually he enjoys opposing to majority’s opinion and loves to shock everyone (that’s why he’s such a weirdo…), but it turns out that even he is not able to oppose a simply wrong stereotype. Dear Michał, if you are reading this, which I highly doubt, then you should know that you disappointed me today, not only at this point. You are big enough to see the difference between being childishly stubborn and having your own rational beliefs; being original for a good reason and being a weirdo because of your low self-esteem and your only child’s desire for attention, even though then you can only talk rubbish which you heard or read somewhere. Sincerely, soap is good for everything.
But back to my subject - I forgot to focus on another aspect of the problem, and I need to repel eventual attacks (supposing anyone will have the guts and determination to go through this wall of text, lol). I’m thinking now about the creative process. I couldn’t understand why our truly artistic friend couldn’t stop drawing for a second to open the door. So - even if somebody isn’t a scumbag, once they start creating, they can’t stop - the piece of art compels them to stay there and continue until it’s finished. Sometimes they forget about the world, they forget to eat, sleep, answer phones… So how would they do such a trivial thing as opening the door? They are running amok, so they can’t do anything about it. But! we need to draw a clear and thick line between fake artists and the real ones. Those fake bastards justifying their appalling behavior with artiness will never be devoted so much to what they create. Once again, they use it as a fake excuse to their laziness or not caring about anyone. They think, ‘Damn, it’s not a good day, I don’t feel like talking to those idiots around me… I’ll pretend to fall into a creating trance and they’ll fuck off.’ And to my mind, this is the case with my artistic friend.
Obviously, it’s not the only motive for artist shutting themselves off from the rest of the world. If 1) they are not real artists who really run amok while creating and 2) they are not jerks pretending to run amok so that they can yell at everyone to go away, then there is also another possibility. Point number 3 - they are talented and create great pieces of art, but they don’t feel like artists, rather like craftsmen, because they are not able to run amok. Maybe the society puts such pressure on them. So they either pretend to fall into a trance or they refrain from doing anything else while creating hoping that suddenly they might feel it. Or there is the fourth solution, which is mostly also my case - they don’t want to stop, because once they do, they might not feel like finishing the piece. Seriously, I have problems with it and I suppose that somewhere out there some bitches like me may exist. But those people should be able to stop just for a minute to do something really important or urgent, like opening the door. Besides, it’s good to walk away from the canvas for some time so that you can have a fresh look at it when you come back - it’s surprising how many messed up things you couldn’t notice before. But nevermind, it’s not the point.
It might look like I hate my friend, the one who was described as real artist by Loro. Well, it’s hard to find a more misguided opinion. After we got into his apartment (his sister answered the entry phone and he opened the door), I saw what he was working on. It was an unfinished drawing of an old car. It was quite good. He was being grumpy, so I was afraid to ask him to show me more of his finished drawings, but I believe they are splendid. Nevertheless, I still claim that the likes of him can’t be called true artists, despite all the respect I have towards him. I really do. But let’s face up to the brutal truth - he’s just a moody motherfucker who draws cars. And planes.
‘Wait,’ you will say, ‘what should do those real artist who happened to have difficult personalities? They can’t do anything about who they are!’
And here you are partially right, but also partially wrong. Please don’t mix personality with upbringing. You can be a rebel, but it doesn’t equal being an asshole. You still live in a society, no matter what you do you are condemned to interact with other human beings and thus basic rules of politeness are in force. If you don’t like it, you can move out of the city/village and live on a desert or somewhere else where you will be completely alone. Then you are allowed to shout at trees as loudly as you want and argue with the sand over anything you want.
‘But they are artists, the rage inside them drives them to create! If they suppress it, their art won’t be as good!’
I don’t ask anybody to change their whole personalities or suppress negative feelings inside them. The only thing I request is to consider other people’s feelings and to remember what mommy told you when you were a kid. Try not to offend people, it’s really not difficult. I’m not asking anyone to do their best to fit in. I’m asking not to explain rude behavior with having an artistic soul, because in 90% it’s just a big lie.
Contemporary world is full of frauds. People have just become too smart and if they see an opportunity to make their life more comfortable at a low cost, they will do it. In this case it’s (often but not always!) pretending to be an artist, just because it excuses them from almost everything. The only ones who is to blame for it is us, the society and its beliefs and stereotypes. Many wrong opinions apply also to other professions, for example everyone thinks that psychologists can see through a person after a 5 minutes’ talk and maybe even manipulate them. It’s not true, those qualities depend only upon the person and their predispositions and you don’t need any special training to gain them. So not every psychologist is a mind-reader and not every artist is an ill-mannered original individual. It’s up to us to understand somebody’s real motives, which can be hard, but mostly it’s very easy.
So does being an ‘artist’ justify being a scumbag? The answer is NO, in capital letters. We shouldn’t let inexplicable stereotypes think for us. Following common shared beliefs is often the worst thing to do. Let’s not hurt the ones who are not stereotypical and thus don’t fit to our idea of the likes of them.
The other day I found out that a school secretary who almost yelled at me and with whom I almost had a fight described me to my friend as “a blond girl with a nice/lovable/kind [I don’t know which one she meant… “miły” can be understood in many ways] face, not big, rather little”. A blonde. Not big? Lovable face? She had almost killed me there!
My friend couldn’t recognize me from the secretary’s description (no wonder oO”), so they looked through changed declarations (because I changed mine that day and that’s why I needed that bloody secretary’s help) and when they found mine, the woman was like, ‘Oh, that’s her!’, and my colleague was like, ‘Are you sure? A little blond?’, and she replied, ‘Yes, 100% sure!’…
So from now on I’m a little blond, with a lovable face.