In a world that is obsessed with success stories and only venerates art that is groundbreaking and perfect and more, who talks about the average artists? The mediocre writers? The painters and dancers and singers who create substandard art, mostly just out of their love for the craft? This piece is an exploration of this mediocre art that we’re ever so scared to create and share with the world, lest we be criticised or ridiculed.
For the majority of my childhood, I knew two things to be undoubtedly true. One, I was a deeply artistic person and harbored an intrinsic need to understand and express my thoughts, sentiments, and emotional experiences through a variety of creative mediums. Two, no matter how ardently I wished to excel at doing things I liked, I wasn’t exceptionally good at any of it. I jumped from hobby to hobby- singing, dancing, drawing, painting, photography, writing- desperately hoping to feel proud of and fulfilled by my creative endeavors and consequently falling in and out of love with all of them, repeatedly.
Having dabbled in many art forms, I was mediocrely good at doing a lot of things. I could imitate visual art fairly well, carry a decent tune and dance in front of a bunch of people without irreversibly ruining my reputation. But when paired with my draining tendency to strive for perfection in every project I undertake, my lack of proficiency in crafts I cared so passionately about led to a lot of resentment towards my inability to the be notably good at them, gradually persuading me to save myself the emotional exhaustion by simply disengaging from my artistic inclinations.
Over the years, I have taken up new recreations and found my way back to old hobbies way too many times to keep count. Though these efforts are still coloured with an overwhelming awareness of my own mediocrity, somehow, a conscious shift in perspective has allowed me to look at the situation with greater understanding and appreciation for all the above-average-at-best art I create.
As humans, we carry an innate propensity to compare ourselves to others’ specific skills, natural talents, idiosyncrasies, shortcomings, etc. This tendency to abandon our own idea of ourselves and rather look at who we are and what we do through a lens of milestones and timelines others have set for themselves distorts our view of what’s substantial, admirable and maybe even enviable in our own personalities and special skill sets. And if this frame of mind becomes a permanent influence on our actions and beliefs, we end up squandering years and years of invaluable time (especially days when we’re not burdened by the constraints of adulthood) waiting to be miraculously perfect at doing things we like before we can share them with the world and put ourselves through the insufferable vulnerability of having our very best tries be, criticised, rejected or ridiculed.
Not only does this hold us back from exploring our immense potential to its depths, but it also reiterates the capitalistic belief that the value of art created is unalterably attached to and determined by the way it is received by its consumers, either in the form of a monetary return or the acclamation it evokes (or doesn’t.) This notion consequently trivialises the sanctity, personal utility and gratification of creating art just because it makes us happy and gives us peace; just to derive the simple pleasure of having invested our time and energy in doing something that satisfies our soul and brings us joy, even if it isn’t groundbreakingly good or is merely an amateurish repetition of what’s already been done before.
There’s an inherent and often overlooked godliness in such art, art that might be glorious or commonplace or substandard or even extremely faulty, but is simply a byproduct of the whims and families of the artists or is done for the mere love of the craft, in secret or in front of an audience.
And while it may be fatiguing to put your very mediocre art- especially if it’s a sincere attempt at practising the craft and not solely a fun way to pass your time- through the scrutiny of people who might never understand where you’re coming from or find no worth in it, once you do it, you’re way more likely to find relief in the act of having put your personal aspirations over your fear of being judged, which often proves to be unfounded. As a cherry on top, it might increase the likelihood of you coming across people like you who’ve had similar experiences and disappointments in the past but continue to put their heart & soul in whatever they enjoy doing. And at the very least, your efforts are sure to inspire other artists who might also be starting out to share their art with this big, scary and mortifying world as well, however average or splendid it may be.
Read Also: The Complexities of Nature as a Muse for Art
Featured Image Credits: Wasteyrselfkid on Instagram