The Duty of an Artist

America Martin, artist, duty, create, hope, light, art, dream

The life of an artist is often romanticized but the truth is that it’s full of uncertainties and doubts.  Sometimes we wonder about purpose.  Sometimes we doubt the direction the creative path is taking.  Sometimes we ask, “What’s the point?”  Sometimes we wonder if it’s worth it or if anyone cares.

While reading the autumn addition of Where Women Create (a beautiful magazine about and for artists), I read a quote by artist America Martin that struck me with such truth that I had to read it again and again.  And I wanted to share it with you.

She said,

Being able to live as a working artist is my most significant personal achievement, but “success” and “disappointment” are what I call “outside terms,” which cannot be let into the arena of being an artist. Those words represent intentions that mar and are counter to the true purpose of being an artist. For any true love there is neither success nor disappointment.  When you really love something, I believe there is only duty.  The artist’s duty is to make his or her art, to do it any way he or she can, small or large scale.  When you do what you love most, it is like a small light of hope for other hearts; it creates encouragement.  It creates a community, a tribe of others who dare to dream.

Wow.  The truth in those words took my breath away.

Your art matters.  It matters to you first, but it matters to those around you who have a dream, even if you don’t know it.  They have a passion.  They have a desire.  They have a longing that is yet unfulfilled.  And they see you doing what you love.  You are an artist because you create art.  Without art, the light of who you are fades.  The artist is nothing without her art.

Your art is beautiful.  But what’s more beautiful is the beauty of a realized artist.  You have no idea who you are inspiring.  No matter what your perceived level of success is in the business of art, you have a duty to continue.  Full time, part time.  Large scale, small scale.  You and your art, your persistence and your perseverance may be the thread of hope on which someone else’s dream hangs.  You become his or her motivation and inspiration.  You. The artist.

Don’t stop.  Don’t waver.  Don’t doubt.  You have a duty to create.

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