Back in 2013, I opened my Etsy shop to sell postcards featuring my art, which was, at that time, little more than stick figures, drawn with Sharpies to express funny, sweet sentiments of love and friendship. That was all I knew how to draw back then, but I wasn't overly worried about it. If you'd asked me what my job as an artist was, I'd have told you my job was to delight you. And then I would have laughed at the preposterous notion that I could be considered an artist.
I still feel that way a lot of the time, but these days I create more than just stick figures, using more than just Sharpies. My art is central to my life and work; it's how I make money and how I find joy. I spend more time engaged with it than I do with any other single thing in my life.
Which makes me all the more interested in the question: What is my job as an artist? I think about it a lot.
Over the years, it's felt important to me somehow. Fundamental. Like knowing the answer would not only guide and fuel my work, but also ground me in a way I've sometimes felt was missing.
And then, this past week, I hit upon the answer. I've been circling it for a while, zeroing in without really knowing what, exactly, I was closing in on. I no longer think it's my job to delight people (unless the people in question are clients, and then it's absolutely my job).
Rather, I think my job as an artist is simply to be worthy of your attention. Let's face it. People have options - lots and lots and lots of options. And, to preserve our sanity, we all have to be mindful about what we focus on. Maybe today, you do want to be delighted. Or maybe you want something else - to be inspired, challenged, soothed, enlightened.
Maybe what you want today isn't what you want tomorrow, or a half hour from now. You're human, after all, which makes you a complicated being, messy, inconsistent, maddening, wonderful.
Like (and unlike) all the other humans.
Like (and unlike) me.
And so here's my thought. When, in the midst of tending to your life, which I know is sometimes a monumental task, you decide to focus some of your precious attention on my work, I'll try to make sure it's worth it. Maybe it won't be what you need in any given moment, and that's okay. It'll be the best art I can make. It'll be an honest reflection of me, and you, our worries, our hopes, the ways we connect, and the ways we come apart. And it'll come from my heart.
That's what I think my job as an artist is: to create art from my heart, to yours.