Following Your Bliss is Not Always a Good Idea: Your Art Should be What Others Want

Venus's always Venus!
One of the popular ideas in our culture, especially about art, is the concept that one needs to be true to one's vision even if no one else is interested.  This view is based on the advice of a fictional fool.

The origin of the famous quote is William Shakespeare. In Act 1, Scene III of the famous play, "Hamlet," Polonius says,

“This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man/Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”

What many people don't think about or know is that Polonius was the evil king's advisor and that he was ineffectual in his council both to the king and his own son, who he is instructing.  In fact Polonius is such a foolish person (and a bad father) in the play that his daughter kills herself and Polonius is killed while hiding behind a curtain while he is spying.

They refused this…ignoramuses
Almost all of my art teachers acted as if an uncorrupted personal vision was essential for an artist to succeed.  

This is bullshit.

Success in art is a combination of things, the ability and skill of the artist, the content of the art and the context surrounding the artist: the artist's place in history, in the social and economic world they live in and who they are connected with.  

Sometimes it's luck, but think about this, an artist needs the social and economic support of other people to become successful.  Whatever your definition of success, money, recognition and exhibition and artist needs people to want to look at and engage with their work.

I'm suggesting that maybe if you make art that pleases you and other people you will at least sell some of your work and be able to keep creating more of it.


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