Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Okay, I'm an Artist

I'm actually posting something today having been inspired to rant about a pet peeve of mine. I was purchasing some photographs at a boutique and yet again heard, "it's okay, I'm an artist." Every time I hear this phrase it rubs me the wrong way, and I've heard it from all kinds of people including my own art professors. It has been used to justify difficulties with math and spelling, general flakiness, lack of memory, illogical, erratic or emotional behavior, and more.

Why does it matter? Well, simply put, it feeds into preconceived ideas of what we, as artists, are. I don't like other similar excuses either, like "it's okay, I'm a woman." My being a woman doesn't automatically make me emotional or maternal or a good listener. (I'll admit that sometimes I may be emotional, but I don't tend to be maternal, and whether or not I'm a good listener has more to do with my state of mind at the time than with my being female.)

Saying "it's okay, I'm an artist" can reinforce notions that all artists can't spell or do math or hold a train of thought, and that simply isn't true (take Leonardo da Vinci for example). For all that each of us may not see the harm in those generalizations that do apply to ourselves individually, we are more likely to take offense to those that don't. But we're all different - we artists are a very diverse group and many of us prefer to embrace that diversity rather than imposing limitations on ourselves and others.

This holds true outside of art as well. Essentially why should we want to feed into stereotypes by using them to justify our own shortcomings? What if we were to take responsibility for ourselves, or at least not assume that our behaviors & tendencies automatically extend to others? Sometimes it's easy to slip up and place blame or seek camaraderie by making assumptions, but I make every effort not to do this and to try to be more responsible for myself. It all comes down to this: I don't like to be generalized, so I try hard not to generalize myself and/or others.

No comments: