I am an artist because…

There’s a part of me that believes art to be a primordial aspect of the human condition. Art inspires, art is a way of achieving greatness, of building a better world. Art turns strangers into friends. Without art, without artists, we wouldn’t be ourselves anymore.

Because I feel that within the confines of any artistic form of expression, we allow ourselves to wear a mask. The artist hides behind words or paints or brushes. And he feels safe. He can be anyone he wants to be. His freedom is limitless. And he plays this bizarre game of hide and seek with the rest of the world, constantly changing the rules, until he decides – maybe on a mere subconscious level – to be himself, thinking that people will never find out.

Being an artist is a way of finding out who you really are. Because as much as art is about observing the world around you, about turning yourself into a shadow, art is also about introspection, about confronting the most terrifying of truths.

A part of me wants to believe that I was born an artist. That it was my inexorable destiny to become a writer. I can’t see any other way, I can’t see a different path. It makes being an artist something special. The world can’t stop me, simply because I am who I am. There’s nothing that can define me more than being an artist. It’s simple, it’s easy to understand, and it adds an almost transcendental element to art.

When you start thinking like that, you immediately see signs. Symptoms. Like the fact that you always knew you were alone. You felt solitude in a more poignant way. Artists are not introverts. They are just alone. And every handshake, every person they meet, does nothing to destroy the feeling that they’re alone. And when you’re all by yourself in a quiet room, that’s when you feel that you found yourself. You know who you are. There’s no doubt about it. And after a while, you want to spend hours and hours hidden away from the world, rummaging through your mind for those elusive dreams that always evaporate into the craziness of a busy street.

And then you find more symptoms. And the more you drown yourself in a world that doesn’t really exist, the less you are willing to come back.

Like I said, only a part of me thinks this is true.

Because I often find myself asking this simple question, “What’s the difference between a kid who always wanted to be a writer and a kid who always wanted to be a doctor? Or a sailor? Or an astronaut?”

If we are as free as we like to believe, then it makes sense that we are free to choose who we want to be. And then we set out into the world to acquire the knowledge, the wisdom, and the experience we need in order to become the painters, the dancers, the actors, the writers we have always dreamed of being.

We need a reason for everything we do in life.

Artists are guided by passion, by the need to create. And our emotions and dreams are amplified by our art. Whether a conscious decision or not, in order to be an artist, one has to create art.

Like Andy Warhol said, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.

***

This essay is part of The Best of Cristian Mihai: Essays (2012-2017). Available as a free download on irevuo’s e-store here.

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