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"No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist."

By Raggamuffin · Apr 27, 2021 · ·
  1. The title quote is from Salvador Dali. Lazy feels like an overly critical way to describe myself, but it's true - and that's probably why it makes me feel uncomfortable. I've been my own worst enemy when it's come to my art. For me, it feels like it's overshadowed by a sense of failure. Whenever I draw, I realise it ends up gathering dust, and eventually I talk myself into another hiatus.

    I began drawing over 16 years ago, and in that time the periods of creating art has been extremely intermittent. In the early years of drawing I was excited by what I created and had no end of feedback from friends and family. As the praise continued, it inevitably led to people commenting that I should sell my artwork, and there began the fears, worries and expectations. Everything I tried led to failure and no sales. Since I've never sold an original, to keep making more artwork feels like a waste of time.

    I go through months of creating a good amount of work, and then I go years creating nothing. People have often said to just draw for pleasure, without any expectation. I feel like that's not possible at this point. Whilst I began drawing 16 years ago, I also started working in office jobs around that time. To say I feel wasted in these jobs is an understatement. The discontent has been growing, and now I have no substances to take the edge off the feelings of failure and stagnation, I'm about ready to burst.

    On my art page, I just post old works. Photographs are the only newer work I post, but I struggle to find it an artform. I see award winning photos, and know that mine could never compare. I see artists who've "made it" and I'm envious to the point I feel deeply unsettled. Perhaps it's a modern phenomena where an artist expects to be successful and recognised in his time. You look at some of the most expensive works of art that sell nowadays, and it's often artists who were anything but wealthy in their life time. The fact art is collected and often treated as a tradeable investment unsettles me to no end. As with many aspects of society, I feel like those who "make it" are often of a certain mindset, temperament or background. Perhaps it's just an excuse I'm making to convince myself I can't make it. Perhaps it makes it easier to assume I'll never make it because there's something wrong with me that's unchangeable.

    The torture artist - such a cliche, and yet I fit the bill; hook, line and sinker.

    I say I want to make a career from my art, and yet I've been beyond complacent. A full time job is 8-9 hours a day. Whilst I don't have the time to do that with my art, as I work full time - it's not like I dedicate my free time to art or photography. When I get home I vegetate in front of my PC and get very little else done. I understand it though - I've always worked in stressful, thankless and poorly paid jobs. Many work colleagues in the past have got to know me, and realise I'm wasted in such jobs. I know this only too well, and 16 years later - I'm so sick of it.

    Being an underachiever hurts - it makes me feel depressed, anxious, ill and suicidal. I've seen so many people succeed in life where they've tried. I know I'm not living up to my potential. A friend of my dad's who waited until he was retired to do art full time implored me not to wait as long as he did. Truth be told, I'm exhausted at this point. I try new things in the hope they'll improve how I feel - new lifestyle choices etc, but realistically I know that none of this will be very fruitful when I continue to feel trapped in these jobs. They've robbed me of my time, my freedom and to a point - my sanity.

    I've always had an issue with drawing at home - whether it was at my parents, when me and Kristy rented, or where we live now. In fact, I drew most when I was "sociable". I'd go meet people in parks and bring my staff and my art. That's all I'd do - draw and staff, all the time - mainly to avoid talking to people. When I drew a lot in the past, it was at work on lunch breaks, or during quiet periods. All the while though - that nagging realisation I've never sold an original would continually hound me.

    I'm under no illusion that you have to try hard and be very outgoing to make a success of things. I'd have to travel far and wide, trying my luck at galleries to get exhibitions. I'd need to be a lot more proactive in running my website and social media. I'd probably need to make new social media accounts and promote my work on there. All the while, I'd have to create more art, more photographs and attend art and craft fairs etc.

    That realisation in itself makes me feel burnt out before it's even started. I'm no stranger to idealising the potential "what if's". At the same time, I'm highly skilled at catastrophic thinking around "what if's".

    "...a lazy artist" that's how I feel. Lazy, and a failure. At this point, praise about my work feels like poison. I just add it to the rest of my resentments about never succeeding.

    I suppose the advice would be to keep trying, never give up, don't take "no" for an answer etc. etc. I'm just worn out, whilst the Dali quote is very apt, my state of mind in recent years feels more like this:

    "Tired, tired with nothing, tired with everything, tired with the world's weight he had never chosen to bear."


    About Author

    Ed, 34, UK

    I'm an underachiever with numerous talents. Exhausted by people and being stuck in the rat race. Unable to shake depression for nearly 2 decades.

    Approaching a year and a half sober. I've undertaken numerous lifestyle changes in recent years. I'd hoped they'd provide some solace from mental health issues. In reality, I know work is my main stressor. 16 years spent in jobs I've never considered careers, or worthy of my time.


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  1. soraya
    Then why not trying to get a network of artists? I know there is a big effort to do, socialisation, and so on... but maybe you could get more outlets and ideas of where to sell, or even how to keep feeding your project with more artworks...