I always hesitate when telling someone that I’m going to do a rant post. In the back of my mind I feel like they think I’m about to launch into a Peter Griffin style “you know what really grinds my gears” type rant. So at the risk of someone thinking I’m a Family Guy fan (which I’m not), you know what really grinds my gears? Our culture’s undervaluing of artisans and creatives.
Once upon a time artists were appreciated. In medieval times, parents took their children to be apprenticed to artisans & craftsmen, because “masters” of the craft often had a higher social standing in their community.
Because only the wealthy could afford such luxuries, and the more skilled someone was, the more desirable their goods were. You could end up making things for a wealthy landowner, or a lord of the court, or even a king.
So artisans were prized. Valued. Appreciated.
Fast forward to today. Now we have companies selling shirts that say “Aspiring Young
Artist President”, as if being a politician is somehow a worthier plan than pursuing your God-given creative giftings.
We have people commenting on people’s social media posts, to inform them how unimpressed they are with their college degree, because “you only have a lib arts degree”. Firstly, everyone goes through the same core stuff. Secondly, you have no idea what they minored in (or if they double majored). Thirdly, why is a liberal arts degree a thing to be demeaned?
How can we fix this?
First, we need to stop putting creativity/artistry into a box. For some reason, people say things like “I’m not creative… I don’t paint”, or “I’m not creative, I can’t draw a stick figure”. Let’s take a second and look at some of the things that fall under the artistic umbrella…
- Glass blowing
- Scale modeling
- Rubber stamping
- Quilling (also called paper filigree)
- Graphic design
I could go on, but I’ll stop there. You’re seriously telling me that you can’t do any of those? Maybe, but could you learn even one? Yes. I know right now you’re thinking “but Amanda, some of those are learned skills… glass blowing? You can’t just jump up and do it!”
True. That’s the point. Any of these can be learned. No one wakes up knowing how to do quilting. Are some people more bent towards a certain skill? Maybe. I think it could be argued that some people are more persistent in pursuing certain skills.
Secondly, practice is an astonishing thing. Back a year or two ago I read an article in Huffington Post about the value of practice. The differences people made in 6 months, or a year were amazing. And yes, the people who have put in decades of practice are putting out seriously incredible work, but everyone starts somewhere.
Thirdly, stop defining your skills by someone else’s creations. If Picasso had tried to paint like Monet, the world wouldn’t know his name. Many artists struggle with feeling appreciated… over the years the world has lost many bright stars because they didn’t realize how needed they truly were. And the tragedy is that they never truly learned to appreciate their own work.
It’s become almost a rite of passage for being a creative.
I hear it all the time…. “Oh I just hate my own work… you know how it is, you’re an artist”. Why do we feel like it’s mandatory to dislike our own work? Are we trying to achieve perfection? Are we afraid of being called out for cockiness? Whatever it is, our own inability to be own our own best salesperson has caused a culture where no one understands how precious creativity is.