Tuesday, February 10, 2009
A long time ago, I dated a rock musician who was enjoying some success on the national charts. Everywhere we went, people gave him free guitars, sneakers, skateboards, strings, clothes, meals – anything they thought he wanted. He accepted the gifts with grace but always looked a little awkward. When I asked why, he said it was ironic: when he'd really needed help, no-one gave him anything. The gifts were nice but they didn't really matter now that he could buy whatever he needed.I saw a couple of close friends yesterday. I've known one of them since the beginning of my career. Somehow, he knew my old art teacher at high school. The teacher had said to tell me hello, and asked my friend to pass back any message. I laughed and said he could tell her to get fucked. I had asked the teacher several times for a reference to help me get in to art school. I went back every day for a week but she could never be bothered to write the note. Now that I had proven myself without her, she behaved as though she'd been part of my journey – or had recognised something in me then. She hadn't. In my teens, I read articles about artists I aspired to emulate. In them, there were always comments from people out of their past, who'd claim they'd recognised something special in the artists. At the time, I thought that I had less of a chance of becoming successful because the people I looked up to ignored me. Now I realise that most people claim to have recognised and nurtured talent – and most of them probably hadn't.I receive a lot of electronic files of art work and links to websites from people I don't know. They want my opinion. I understand the need for reassurance but I can't give it. Still, I don't want to discourage anyone. I still remember a time when nobody recognised any value in my work. If I'd cared too much about that, I wouldn't have continued. It's not about what anybody thinks of your work. It's about persisting, regardless.