Friday, June 15, 2012

the artist's conundrum and my tramp stamp

On one side: You can do anything! Dream big!

On the other side: Know your limitations. Beware Hubris. Pick your battles.

La Primevere et La Plume by Alphonse Mucha

It's a struggle I've always... um... struggled with. I can do anything-- except the things I can't do.

See, I have this vision of a back tattoo. Mucha-inspired. Art Deco. Big. And it will cover up that line drawing I did when I was 20 that is now universally called a "tramp stamp". When I was 20, we just called them "tattoos".

But I've come to realize over the years that my art skills constantly disappoint me. I'm not the artist I want to be. I can draw better than most people, and I can do great things with murals, but there's just no style to it. And the tattoo I'm trying to cover up is one of my own designs, and... I don't like it. I only see its flaws.

And yet.

How do I explain to someone else exactly what I want? What if they do a lot of work and it's not quite right? I have an artist's eye for detail and color and proportion, and nothing less than perfection will do. Working with someone on that kind of complicated collaboration takes time, work, back and forth, money-- in short, responsibility. And I don't have the mental space for that right now.

So do I do it myself and possibly hate it?

Or really commit to it and have someone else do it?

It's time to admit that I can't do everything. I can't be everything I dream of. There's room for me to improve as a writer, but history shows I'm topped out as an artist and probably shouldn't design anything I'll have to see in a mirror every day for the next sixty years. I'm finally old enough and wise enough to recognize my own limits, at least in regards to needles, patience, and permanence.

As for my own art, I'll stick to things that come with a DELETE button.



Anonymous said...

From @anamuk :-

Find a professional artist you can work with. I can do many things, but I can't draw for [noun]. Cover up work is tricky so get pro advice. Hopefully they'll know some things you don't which will help with a better result.

jarvenpa said...

Okay, I agree about the tattoo, work with a professional (too bad you don't live on my coast; for a memorable time my bookshop had a tattoo parlour in the back, run by friends. The rental space was huge, you see, and we didn't have the cash, and they wanted space there we were, selling books to kidlets over the sound of tattoo guns. Oddly, our business got better when the tattooists left, who knew?) But as for art...don't sell yourself short. And..always be willing to do something you love doing...badly. Not perfectly. Not for applause. For the fun. (my free advice for the moment). And I love the paintings of yours I have hanging in my shop.