The history of art includes notable artists who defied established social norms in order to freely express themselves. They were willing to live in poverty for awhile or even permanently and found their place in the world of fine art by unconventional means. For instance, Jean Michel-Basquiat (photo) and Al Diaz began as graffiti artists on buildings in Lower Manhattan, working under the pseudonym SAMO. At that time, their artistic vision was more important to them than social approval or money.
Most of the rest of us are less radical. While we want unrestricted creativity, we also need to support ourselves in a manner that keeps us from living on the streets as beggars. So, we artists find ourselves in an ironic situation where we want to be free of social constraints but we also need society’s approval and support. We like to think that the opinions of others and the marketplace don’t affect our creative expressions, but they do. Isn't it ironic?
I’ve had to find a middle ground – a place where I can express my thoughts and also make them acceptable enough to find patronage. Does this make me hypocritical? No, because I openly admit it and I do like and believe in the art I'm making. But, what would I create if financial and social constraints were completely absent? I suppose the answer to that is all the art that's stacked up in my attic that no gallery or patron would touch. Maybe future generations will find value in it and maybe it will see the light of day.
How about you?