Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The travails of an Artist

After all, in any other walk in life it doesn't matter if
you're not very good; you can get along quite comfortably if
you're just adequate; but it's different with an artist.

I'm quoting the narrator in the Somerset Maugham novel - The Moon and SixPence.
This one line sums up the reason behind the apathy towards fine arts among the youth all over the world.
After all, why would you want to risk becoming a professional writer even if it were the overriding passion of your life, when you can earn a comfortable amount writing mind numbing code which doesn't require you to be the best in the business!

A novelist, or for that matter a painter or a playwright has no surety of monetary success as his fortunes inextricably depend on the whimsical,often uncultivated,taste of the hoi polloi.
In contrast, a technologist or a professional manager need not lose sleep over his next meal as long as he possesses the right qualification and appropriate skillsets.Natural ability or flair is a useful adjunct, but is in no way indispensable for survival as is the case with an artist.

Moreover, unlike in conventional professions, Mediocre Art is rewarded and wins more acclaim often at the expense of original art.
The Sidney Sheldons and the Chetan Bhagats end up raking in more moolah than the VS Naipauls and the Ramachandra Guhas.
Hence,there is little or no incentive for a talented youngster to pursue art seriously. Even if he does, he must consciously pander to the popular constituency by dumbing down his output and running the risk of being branded as a 'populist' 'lowbrow' artist.

Young Artists who defy popular trends and heedlessly pursue their obsessions deserve more appreciation from the society. So, the next time you meet up with a student of literature, Archeology or any such 'arbit' course, Don't denigrate his ilk with the snide remark- 'You're after all a BA!' as nothing else could be more mortifying for an artist.

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