the art of being yourself

Illustrated quote by Maria Larsson


the idea of fame…

The perception of what makes a person a “real” artist is connected with the myth of the “lonely genius”, which emerged when craftsmen first strove to become respected members of an elite. At the dawn of renaissance the concept of the individual began to emerge in Western Europe and replaced the importance of the collective. Craftsmen had until now been organized in craft collectives, guilds, and rarely put their personal signature on their artistic work. But as the idea of individuality got stronger, the concept of being known outside the local area (being famous!) began to grow. Artists, who in the middle ages mostly painted to glorify God, and therefore was not supposed to put a signature on their work, now started to understand that by signing their work they would gain renown in far away places and their name would have a economical value that could be increased over time.

being your own brand…

So this is when the modern artist was born, or at least what we often call an artist in our society. Nowadays the economical value of our name is called our “brand”. Even our personality and lifestyle becomes our brand and everything about us should strengthen this image to the public so that we are easy recognizable and consistent to the brand we’ve created. The next important aspect to maintain the value of brands and the fame of individuals is the story of the “lonely genius” or to put it a bit broader, that only a few of us are talented enough to “become” artists because art is something very elevated and complicated that is within reach of just a few chosen ones… But is this really the definition of an artist? Most of us will never feel that we fit into this category at all. Someone once said “The artist is not a special kind of person, rather every person is a special kind of artist”. If we saw things this way maybe making art would be less mythology and more fun! The conventions of becoming a “real” artist would disappear and people would not have so much fear to embark on the creative journey. In Iceland one could change the world “artist” with “author”. I read that one out of ten Icelanders has published a book! And on top of that, many more are writing than just the published ones. So one might very well suspect that each Icelander is a special kind of author, and regarding the literary heritage of their saga tradition, it’s maybe no wonder…

…or just being yourself!

Nevertheless, I agree that some artists through history made a greater imprint than others making art that forever changed our perception of the world around us and ourselves. For most of us though, this is not the case. Your paintings might not gain world fame, but what will be there will be a truly authentic piece created of this once-in-the-history occasion: YOU! This alone is enough to give importance and authenticity to your work. And this original piece will change the life of many people, first of all yours! You don’t need to be Picasso to be an artist. You don’t need anyones permission to be an artist. You just have to be YOU, that’s all!

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