Monday, 5 September 2016

Dealing With Disappointment

Recently, a local artist and illustrator lost sleep over a mother's e-mail. Apparently, she had been trying to arrange some time for her child to meet the artist so he can review the kid's work and give a few words of encouragement.

But after months of delays over scheduling conflicts and the artist's busy life, he recorded an apology in a video, explaining why the meeting or the review has yet to take place.

It wasn't enough for the mother, who e-mailed back with expressions of disappointment, (from the sound of it) accusing the artist of being like other presumably famous people: lacking passion, sincerity and the willingness to help, and said she'll consider looking elsewhere for more suitable candidates "her children and students can emulate".

Assuming that it's all true: I'm not sure if the artist should've shared the e-mail, if it was the exact e-mail, in sharing his predicament. Disappointments happen, after all, and personalities take that in stride. You can't please everyone all the time.

That being said, the mother's correspondence is another example of the mindset some within the fandom have. Just because you support an artist and regard him as a role model doesn't mean he's obliged to drop everything and entertain your request. He has other commitments to consider, including contractual agreements with companies and publishers to which requests of "please give my kid some words of encouragement" have to take a backseat to.

Yes, wish fulfilment might be part of the deal, but as sentient beings with morals, shouldn't members of the audience do something to make their idols' lives easier, instead of complicating them by claiming this and that out of a misplaced sense of entitlement?

An artist (or author, actor, whatever) is responsible for his work, first and foremost. If the work isn't up to par, everything else - including the audience, patrons, endorsements and offers to collaborate and conduct workshops - won't follow. It's been about five years since he first struck out on his own and he's still going strong, despite the demands of his new gig.

An artist whose survival depends on an audience will, at some point, also trade favours for his audience's continued support. Eventually, because of the novelty and euphoria from the impression that both are connecting on a level beyond work, either will forget why that connection happened in the first place: the artist's work itself.

Soon, the audience will forget about the work and demand more and more of the artist's time for other things. And if the artist's work suffers because of this and he gets dropped by his patrons, who's to blame?

We see personalities too much for their public portrayal and what they represent, and don't learn enough about what it took for them to reach that level and aim for the next. Some personalities should not be emulated, but what they sacrificed and put into their personas should, at least, be acknowledged.

If one is inspired to follow in their footsteps, one should also ask whether one is ready for the hard work and everything else that ensues, including lost sleep, the sacrifice of certain hobbies and being stretched thin from having to be in several places at once.

As to accusations of this artist not having what it takes, keeping his word or inspiring more talent, well, I haven't seen anyone work as hard this artist. He stays past allotted times during meet-and-greet sessions until the queues are clear. He makes small talk to everyone, and asks for updates from those he'd met before. Personalised doodles? No problem.

And as far as I can see, each book of his is better than the last. If there's a fifth book, it'll be harder to write. From a collection of cartoons nobody wanted to publish for over four years, he now has four books that still hop in and out of the bestseller lists, and his art is everywhere.

If the artist is someone who lacks passion, dedication and skill, would he have lasted this long? Would all this have happened? As far as I know, the artist has no army of assistants to help him keep track of things. It's all him.

If that's still not inspiring enough, then...?

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