What are we living for?
What are the rewards that I expect as an exchange for my art? What is my motor in life? What makes me get up every day and continue living as an artist?
Our system is designed to get up and go to work in exchange for money.
By being an artist you took a choice: Whether you completed an artistic degree or you are self- made, everybody will tell you that you are dedicating your life and time to a carreer that very unlikely will bring you social rewards or money.
Why nevertheless do so many people on this planet dedicate their life to art?
According to a study made by Princeton University, roughly 2% of the US-population define themselves as artists. Digitalmusicnews states that 91% of all Musicians are completely undiscovered, according to SAG unemployment rate for actors is about 85%, although most of the working 15% also need to do jobs on the side to earn a living. These numbers apply more or less to every country, at least in the western world.
When I started to study acting, we were told that we must be aware of the fact, that only 3% of all actors in Germany make a good living off their art, means they don´t need to do moonlighting. Still, every year hundreds of young actors graduate from acting schools in Germany, driven by the hope to be one of the few ones who will finally make it.
Personally I have never been interested in these kind of statistics, as I always just did what I wanted to do, and regardless of all the negative voices I studied acting, because it was my dream to do it.
My question is: Why do we decide to be artists? What is the main motivation for you to follow your passion? And what do you do, if you don´t make the money you expected, and don´t get the recognition every artist is yearning for? Would it make a difference if you “fail” in terms of social expectations? Would you not continue doing what you love, because you are not successful in this society system?
What does success mean to you in the first place? Can success only be measured in money or appreciation from fellow humans?
Starting to work as a freelance artist at the age of 19, I went through ups and downs of artistic existence, from harsh criticism to being praised and loved. The times I was successful (meaning I did produce a good amount of money) my environment seemed happier with my work and my doing was easier to accept for them, than in the times that society would consider me as not “successful” (as I didn´t produce so much money, but still was happy doing my art and projects).
Thanks to god I am gifted with a very strong presence and willpower, and actually I was always able to stand up for myself and walk my way, which is not always an easy thing to do. You gotta be strong if you wanna swim upstream in order to not drown. The artists´ existence is double-edged, though: We are one of the most senitive bunch of people moving on this planet, on the other hand we have to be tougher than others in order to make it, because not many people are in our favour.
Personally I live for my art, because my heart so loudly guides me the way, that I can´t ignore it. I deeply sense that I am exactly doing what I have to do, I even don´t have a choice. If I make money or not, if people like what I do or not, its not up to me what I dedicate my life to. A bigger force than my little self is driving me (and probably all of us).
A few weeks ago I had a discussion with a close friend, who judged me for the choices I made and make in my life. I was deeply hurt and I realized, that I had expected this friend to be my ally, someone out of these millions of this planet who truly understands my motives and my existence. To prove that assumption wrong, was a painful lesson to learn. But at the same time it made me stronger, as I stood up for who I am, defined myself and my position in this world clearer than before. Maybe it´s a quality that comes with age and maturity: You start to take position and therefore get more firm and secure in who you are. After all this is a good thing, If you wanna change something on this planet you gotta know where you are standing and what you are going for.
So what do YOU live for, and what are the motives for you to do you do what you are doing?
picture by Noam Ofir