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Scott Lax Blog

On Art and Success, Suffering and Transcendence

For those of you - especially the young - who are seriously considering a life and career as an artist, actor, writer, filmmaker - this is for you. This won't be the most pleasant thing you've ever read. It's not a commencement address about following your dream and everything working out (though that is the ideal, isn't it?). It's all a bit gnarlier than that. Here it is:

You can want to be an artist. You can want money and security. You can want fame.

All of these things are valid wants. But none of them are guaranteed to go together. If you are determined to be an artist that writes - a writer of things in which you believe, say, instead of advertising copy or promotional videos or what have you - you will need to be prepared for a rocky road. This is not an artist-friendly society. It is a commerce-friendly society. That's simply the way it is.

If you commit to art, you commit to sacrifice, at least for a while (if you're not bankrolled), maybe for a long time, and with no guarantees.

This could mean no medical coverage or care in a society that doesn't guarantee its citizens medical care, but does guarantee them that they must pay taxes for corn and soybean subsidies and waging war. It means that you may not know where from where your next dollar will come. It means that you may have to scrap in ways you never imagined. It means you may not be able to go to the doctor or dentist or the hospital. It means you may lose things that are precious to you.

This is the commitment you make to art. Not fake art - not artistic jobs that end up selling things, that end up as advertisements or promoting ideas that come from corporate boardrooms. Rather, art. Those other things are artistic, and worthy of admiration by many, maybe by you; sometimes by me. But they are not art.

Very little great or even very good real art - the expression of a person's soul - has come from anything other than hard work and sometimes suffering. I believe this. Yet in that suffering and hard work lies transcendent happiness. Therein is your main reward. If money and security comes, you've hit the mother-lode. If not, you are still an artist. And you are rare. From that, I hope you take some small comfort.  Read More