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Monday, October 17, 2011

Lies Artists Believe

No one enjoys wallowing in his or her own stereotype like an artist.

Painting with large brush strokes . . .

I have worked around artists my whole life. I am an artist. I know what you say about us and I know what we allow ourselves to believe.

Artists are always late.
Artists can’t think straight.
Artists are flighty.
Artists are unorganized.
Artists are self-absorbed.
Artists have high highs and low lows.
Artists mostly have low lows.
Artists are out of control emotionally.
Artists’ passions often lead them astray.
Artists are tortured.

Wearing his or her “temperament” of shame (wrapped in pride), the artist often wanders through life discouraged, sad, and feeling misunderstood.

Disappointingly, some artists find a toxic strength in the identity of popular opinion and embrace the labels as a badge of honor. They begin to live out their self-fulfilled prophecy of a helpless and tormented soul. They become the bad girl or bad boy everyone thought they’d become--blaming indiscretions on the “way they were made.”

Some artists wave our temperament like a banner and a license of freedom to do whatever we want. On a path of self-destruction.

I’ve seen a sad trend with artists embracing the stereotype of the tortured artist as if they have a disease as opposed to a gift. As if they’ve been dealt a bad hand as opposed to a special prophetic way to heal the world.

If I hear one more male artist tell me that “every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God” I am going to punch him in the neck. I get it. You’re full of emotion. No one understands your passion. Sometimes your sex drive (masquerading as passion) gets you in trouble. But, it’s not because you are an artist. It’s because you are making stupid choices.

Artists: If you drop the ball and show up late and give an excuse like you were tortured by a dream all night and had to paint it out on canvas to the wee hours, that is not a legitimate excuse. You didn’t set your alarm. It’s your fault.

If you didn’t prepare for something because you . . .

a) forgot
b) thought you could wing it
c) haven’t prepared for anything before and everyone knows that’s just how you are . . .

Stop playing a victim. Buy a notebook. Put reminders in your phone. People may expect you to blow it but I guarantee you they don’t like it. They tolerate you. Or ignore you.

If you have high highs and low lows that’s okay. Lots of people do. But they aren’t called artists. They’re called humans. You may need medication. You may need to be in community. You may need perspective. You may need to let go of some baggage. You may be lying to yourself. You may be in denial. Maybe all of the above.

Temperaments make sense. I get it. I believe in predispositions. I empathize with being wired a certain way. I understand having a certain bent. I too feel tormented at times. I’ve had seasons of driving my self crazy with dreams. Sleepless nights. Feeling misunderstood. I’ve been mocked. I’ve made bad decisions. I’ve battled narcissism.

Owning up to all the above, offering them to God, being accountable, allowing ourselves to be edited, practicing full disclosure with loved ones, and surrounding ourselves with people we trust to help us navigate life in Jesus is the way forward.

It’s time for artists to stop constantly getting caught with our hand in the cookie jar and blaming it our natural bent towards the smell of cookies.

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