“Please don’t call yourself an artist”, was a cheeky comment my mentor made at me when I first made a submission back in 2015 for an essay writing competition.
A competition I’d later go on to win, my mentor would say — “Tell them you’re an expressionist. Not an artist”.
Let them decide, if it’s art.
Your job as a creator is to express; interpretation is personal.
Much like a song, the writer might’ve composed it in a different mood or a setting — but it may inspire a generation to interpret what is meaningful to them.
Once you create something, and share it with the world — it’s no longer yours.
It’s a deeper expression extracted from within, finding its resonance with every encounter; it’s meaning is never deliberate.
The response it invokes is always personal, and if one should be so lucky as to be able to share their creation with others — it’s a gift that lives on.
Movies, Songs, Books, Poetry, Paintings, Architecture — are all expressions of the creator, but an interpretation by the audience it finds its way to is the artistry behind it.
Take this commentary from Trent Reznor for example, on Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails’ song “Hurt”.
For an artist such as Trent Reznor who wrote the song when he was in a pretty dark place to admit, “It really wasn’t my song anymore”.
It sends a message of what artistry means, Mr. Reznor understood that at the time and valued it deeply.
An artist is aware that their work, as personal as it may be, is not theirs to hold on to once its shared with the world; it creates a meaning of its own, embodying the many values and interpretations through the shapes it moulds into as it evolves over time — remaining timeless for generations to come along and form a relationship with it of their own.
It cannot be dictated, it cannot be controlled.
Take my favourite work by Charles Bukowski, for example;
Admittedly, it’s a deeply personal and affectionate reflection of a relationship represented in what is seemingly a portrayal of a time shared between two individuals.
Individuals I do not know, neither have I experienced the events described in Bukowski’s poetry.
Yet, it invokes a feeling of nostalgia, of belonging — reminiscent of my days in college with friends, a time which has gone by yet still remains to this day engraved deep in my mind as my fondest of memories; as Bukowski writes “…and it was one of the most wonderful times of my life”.
Creativity, for me, has always been a tool to compensate for not being able to coherently express my thoughts verbally.
Take Fighting, for example, a brutal sport to outsider; but there’s poetry between the violence.
There’s expression through frustration born out of a failure to express the deepest emotions; to express where spoken-words fall short.
Fighters, much like any expressionist — are poets, in my opinion.
Nick Diaz, for example — an individual who often falls short because of his inability to express himself through language, put him in the Octagon though and he’s a free-spirit releasing his inner-emotions through his mastery of Mixed-Martial Arts.
Some of the most creative individuals tend to be loners, a stereotype often associated with the idea of a starving artist; yet there is truth to the matter of art being an expression of the ability to bond and form a relationship through creation with an audience.
Seclusion is what most of my most creative work is born out of, because it’s when I’m truly able to reach within myself; without judgement, without noise — to fully express myself without fear.
The Human Condition: Through Pain and Suffering comes progress.
…It just happens to be uncomfortable.
Those are the moments that I feel I’ve created something I can be proud of; in complete solitude, using my fears and anxiety as ammunition.
Whether it invoked a response or not is not up to me to decide, my job is to create, to express — having done so I’m satisfied.
I’m relieved to be able to express myself, the rush and the euphoria that follows — is the greatest high of all.
An achievement that isn’t comparable, but only experienced when it is a true reflection of self.
Being able to share it, is a wonderful thing — to have it form a life of its own is a further reward.
Which is why expression and self-reflection for me is survival, and writing is how I’m able to accomplish it.