009. The Counterfeit Artist
I have always thought of myself as an artist. But for as long as I can remember I have always had a difficulty with that word, Artist. It is a word that for me always brought up negative connotations. On reflection, I realise that these negative feelings I have for this word have come from years of prejudice.
When I was younger I came to music through the discovery of people whose art made me feel like there were other people out there in the world who had the same view on things as I did. Even though I was already writing at the time and I had belief in what I was creating, being a songwriter was what other people allowed themselves to do. I didn't give myself permission, that was for other people. Could you imagine if your favourite songwriter had this attitude? How many pieces of music would we not have heard?
As time went on I went to college where I was told in no uncertain terms that, "you are not a musician, you are an entertainer." Which means, you are only there to please others and that is your function as a musician. This was coupled with an idea that, If you are making money from music, regardless of the musical situation, then you are, "making it." Both of these ideas are false! If you are to stay true to being a real artist. So I started to distance myself from the dirty word and in doing so build up another prejudice.
Over the next few years, I studied more, spent hours and hours practising and music became all about technique and instrumental mastery, showing off skills and how many chords I could fit under my fingers. This, as it turns out, was another prejudice against being an artist. Although I feel it was a step in the right direction, it was still not being an artist. There were now more tools in my toolbox but it did not mean I was actually able to fix anything.
My real truth is that I envied people who were brave enough to follow their muses all along, to stay true to themselves and to not be misled by dogmatic ideas of what a musician should be. I was jealous of all the people who weren't afraid to express themselves honestly; To speak their truth.
So if you are an artist, please remember you are not a just an entertainer, you do not have to compromise yourself or your work and talent just to make money. Technique, ability and knowledge are not the end goal, it is how you use them. Above all else, stay true to yourself and be honoured to call yourself an artist.