The Benefits of Artistic Obscurity

When I was young I had a dilemma; was I going to be an artist, which was my natural inclination? Or, was I going to be a musician, which was my passion? I couldn’t reconcile the two. But then Disney re-released “Fantasia” and a year later The Beatles released “Yellow Submarine” and I suddenly and delightfully realized that art and music, through the medium of animated film, were a match made in heaven.

Over the next forty-five years I used my love of music, specifically Rock & Roll, as my artistic muse. I’ve painted the lyrics of classic rock songs as acrylic paintings, I’ve illustrated song lyrics in comic book form and I’ve produced fully animated music videos.

Because of the expense involved in these endeavors and the time they took to produce when I only had my friends and fellow band members to help out rather than a team of professional full time studio employees, my creative output is a fraction of what it could have been if this was my full time job. The fact that I could only work on these projects when my day job in the animation industry gave me the time off and then I had only my unemployment check with which to finance them meant that a project that should have taken weeks actually took years.

Although I lament the CDs of my original songs that never got recorded, the animated shorts and music videos that never got made or the paintings that exists only in my mind, I realize that when, and if, the world ever does get to know me through my artistic vision it will know the me that I want it to see. I have forty-five years of material from which I can present only the best for public consumption. If I had been signed to a record contract or a film studio contract I would have been expected to created a certain amount of product each and every year and release that product to the public. People would see everything I did, as I did it. I would not have the luxury of deciding something was sub-par and trash it before anyone saw it.

We all have old photographs that depict us at times in our lives that we now find embarrassing and wouldn’t want anyone else to see. We have the option of pulling those old snapshots out of the photo album and tearing them up but when teams of people have been paid by a company to help you produce those photographs they’re not yours to destroy. Like what you’ve done or not, you have to face the music. Few of us aspiring musicians have ever stopped to contemplate this.

Sooner or later, if you continuously create and produce your art, the spotlight of the public will scan over to you and you’ll find yourself being asked; “Okay, it’s your turn. What have you got to show us?”
When that happens, if you have the material ready you’ll be able to hold that spotlight and get your fifteen minutes of fame. The secret is being able to keep throwing stuff into the light to keep it from wandering off, bored and looking for the next Big Thing.

Luck is the combination of opportunity and preparedness. If you’re prepared by having product, being rehearsed and having plans for future products then when opportunity knocks you’ll be ready to answer and if you’ve edited your work wisely people will be astounded that they’ve never heard of you before now. If not, and you respond to opportunity knocking on your door by answering; “I’m not ready, come back later.” You’ve forfeited your turn in the spotlight which may never return.

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