Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sorry, Your Art Is Lacking...?

Members of the creative class rely on a fundamental support they get by virtue of being close to one another. Location, in this context, is everything. Or much of everything. The main reason behind clustering, after all, is the creative support and feedback that the creatives generate for themselves and their community.

Inspiration is key to productivity and without the clustering effect and some key external motivation it would be rather difficult to create.

-"So, what inspires you?"
This is a question I get often. I gave it some thought the other day and what's actually served as a true inspiration in the recent past is photography by the artists around me. And I don't just support them because they contribute actively to my own creativity. The more I live the more I think that we attract the kind of art that is, in nuce, congruent with our basic understanding of life, the arts, and the general human experience.

Now I'm pretty fortunate to have plenty of creative input and the work of the dear ones is inspiring. And what's inspired me the most in the recent past is photography, more specifically, literature as represented in photography.

But what can one say when confronted with a piece of art that doesn't necessarily ooze high quality? One needs to give an answer especially when actively encouraged to do so. So, what could be said?

Consider this as I thought it was worthy of reaction.

"Dear Prudence,
My dear, highly educated husband has written a book. While he has many talents, writing isn't among them. He paid someone to edit the book, which helped it somewhat, but it's still awful. I've gone through it as well and cleaned it up the best I could without completely rewriting it. The problem is my attitude—I don't feel it's my place to crush my husband's dream but find it hard to just sit there with a smile on my face while he goes on and on about how life will change when he's a best-selling author. It's not going to happen. I realize that at one point a publisher (or a stack of rejection letters) will make the point without me doing so, but I'm not quite sure how to act now. I love him and want to be supportive of him following his dreams, but I don't want him to waste his time. Do I stand by and lie, or break the news to him somehow?"

How would you deal with this scenario?

Tip of the hat to MR for the pointer.

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HDC said...

Yeah, this is a tough one as it's very difficult to be critical of a loved one's art and work. Especially when they go all out and support you unconditionally.

Sra said...

I love Dear Prudence, she's one of my favorite advice columnists. But this time I didn't agree with her answer.

I'd not hide the cross-dressing from the child, since that implies there is something shameful in it. Instead, I'd allow the child to see bits and pieces of this side of daddy, teach her about acceptance, and play plenty of Eddie Izzard dvds and some Rocky Horror Picture Show. She'd find out sooner or later anyway, so she might as well learn about it while young and more readily accepting.

Sra said...

Oh, sorry, I thought we were talking about the cross-dressing one.

As for the bad book, I think I'd try to focus on praising the accomplishment of having completed a book, rather than on how good it is. The crushing criticism, if the book really is bad, will come from the outside when he tries to get it published. There's something much harsher and lasting about criticism that comes from loved ones.

JJ said...

I agree. The external world will take care of the criticism factor so some internal support would be helpful. I think silent support is better than voiced criticism but that's just me. And based on personal experience, I stand by it.

dave said...

Inspiration most often comes from our trusted, familiar sources. Hence, it's tough to be critical of the hands that feeds you, in a way.... At least, I think so.

Brooke said...

I like this. Are you going to share any of the literature in photography pieces that you like the most?

J. said...

Honesty is relative, I find. If you don't want to sleep on the couch, you choose carefully what you say to the loved one if their work is a tad odd. The rest of the world will take care of the criticism. All one can do is give support, silent is best at times. But what do I know, eh?

Dana said...

I agree with most. Silent support and presence. All else falls into place.