Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Few of us paint, design or write only for self-satisfaction: We want to show our work and for other people to see and love that which we have wrought. An Artist’s Ego is a dichotomy, strong but vulnerable. Over the years, I’ve concluded that artists evolve into one of three basic types: The Self-Deprecator , the Napoleon and the Balanced. All have their good and not-so-good aspects, but one type seems to be prevalent in great instructors and it's one I always look for when I want to take a workshop or hire someone to teach one.
The Self-Deprecator is the artist who responds to a compliment with “Oh I should have done (x) and not used (x) and the (x) is wrong. Whether this is serious self-doubt or innate modesty is usually pretty obvious. Give yourself credit for what you have accomplished while acknowledging that you continue learning how to improve your craft. Humility is a virtue to be pursued, but the proper response to a compliment is “Thank you! How kind of you to say so!” This kind of ego probably isn't going to be too successful in getting hired to teach since the ability to self-promote is pretty much mandatory.
The Napoleonic Ego is that artist whose disdain for lesser beings is evident in the first minute you are in their presence. Whether they’re at the top of the proverbial heap or just a little more than a beginner, they smirk, they sneer, they boast and never have a good word about another artist’s work. NE’s who deign to teach will always leave out their “secret ingredient” like grandma did when she gave a recipe to the neighbors. Their self-promotion gene is very much in evidence and takes precedent over content. Much time will be spent in selling their books, videos demos etc. to their students (but the secrets aren’t in there either) and critiques can have a rather nasty edge to them. Admire their work from afar and you’ll continue to enjoy it.
The Balanced Ego may be a great artist/designer/writer, a great instructor or a bit-better-than-average creative who’s also a great instructor. They acknowledge they have a Gift, that they feel they have something worth sharing, but also acknowledge time, practice and mentorships have had a serious impact on their success. The Balanced Ego that teaches will leave nothing out - whatever she or he knows is generously shared with their students and collectors. And best of all, the BE will celebrate your successes with you, as well as offer you encouragement when you have failed to meet your own expectations. The BE’s possess that modesty and generosity of spirit that we can all aspire to. These are the people to seek out as teachers, mentors and role models. My personal favorite list of artist/instructors are all Balanced Egos: Everett Raymond Kinstler, Dawn Whitelaw, Stephen Quiller, Elizabeth Robbins and Davd Cheifetz to name a few. Emulate people like these and you will have collectors and students that come back time and again.
Have a great weekend and remember to Live Out Loud.