Good stuff. This is really true of any vocation or anything else in life: when the penultimate because ultimate. I like how you subtly point us towards the Ultimate in here as well.
Well put, thanks for stopping by!
This long cartoon is excellent, filled with profound insights into the nature of the human heart; a treasure chest of wisdom. Thank you for it.
This was awesome, and is a great point to keep in mind.
When something resonates with me personally, I get excited and start to laugh. “This guy gets it! I know that feeling so well!”. I was laughing until you left your cave. Then the laughing shifted to a pleasant reflection.
I really thank you for your comics so far. “I want to make comics that speak about true things.” is exactly what you’re doing. Thanks again.
That’s great to hear– thanks for stopping by David!
[...] Fellow artist, Stephen McCranie posted a fantastic comic-essay about the danger of making your art (or anything about you!) an idol. Read it here. [...]
I think its incredible that you can create a comic that says so many things about me as an artist and I’ve never met you! So much of what you said in this comic in particular are exactly sentiments that I currently embody. It’s really refreshing to read these and understand that I’m not as bad as I think I am regardless of how much I compare myself to people who I feel are “better” or more established and that thinking like that can be negative and that I should focus on my own journey as an artist and things will fall in place as it should. This encourages me to also help others on their path also.
You’re an incredible artist, storyteller, and you’re amazing at being yourself. I hope to meet you one day.
Thanks Beefy! I’m thankful that I get to connect with artists like yourself through this comic. I’m thankful this work is coming out so resonant– it makes me feel like I’m on the right path.
Yeah, this is very recognizable! I’ve certainly gone through periods of my life where my success or lack thereof (mostly lack) in art was devastating. I think it’s a mentality that I’ll be struggling with forever, because art does meant a lot to me, and to my identity.
I don’t think this mentality applies just to art, tho, or even to just the creative fields. I’m pretty sure business people struggle with this issue too, and I’ve seen friends who defined themselves as wives and mothers devastated when that identity is threatened or fails. We are the things we love the most, and sometimes that can be unhealthy.
Well said Faith– this is a malady that’s hard to escape from in every part of life. If you’re identity is your comics, what will you do when everyone has forgotten about you? If you’re identity is your kids, what will you do when they grow up and leave home? I think the key is finding something to mount your identity on that isn’t subject to change or chance.
I am in agreement with Faith. I was once a part of the the science community and one’s intelligence, creative research, grants and awards too often were equated with self value. Some of the best scientists I came across were also the most shallow people I’ve ever met. Why do people care so much about fleeting temporal accolades? It’s far better to become a human of real value as Christ demonstrated to us: of love, humility, wisdom, awe and ultimately, joy.
Great insight, unc!
wow. you really got me here. I… I’m trying not to BE my art, but it’s really hard – it’s the only thing that makes me different from the people I know. I’m not even “decent” at it, I’m… I’m not even okay. but it’s the only thing that keeps me going.
Keeping going is a good thing, and I totally understand your heart for art.
No matter how far I get along the path though, I’ve never found satisfaction or anything stable enough to mount my sense of self worth on. Even after becoming a professional cartoonist, which was a huge milestone and honor– the triumph came, and then it was gone– it didn’t last.
The lie that I most struggle with is this: “That I can make something beautiful that will cause people to love me.” You know what the worst part of this lie is? That it might come true. After my first book was published I’d call home to my mom and dad, and I noticed that we only ever talked about my work and my art and my books, and I began to worry– what if my parents only cared about me because of my career? What would happen if I lost my art job? Who would I be? I want people to love me, but not for anything I do, just because.
I’ll tell you though– art is a joy when you have a reason bigger than yourself to create for. It’s not that art is bad, it’s just that taking your identity in it is. As a Christian, I find the most joy in my art when I am creating it for God and people, though I’ll tell you, it is hard! Like I said in the comic, I’m always treading the path, and it sucks. But I have hope in God that he’ll free me from that cycle, because he fits that thing I need perfectly– he has that love that loves me for no reason that I contribute to, just because he’s awesome and he genuinely cares. My hope is that God will help me define my self worth by what he says about me and not by what the art critics say or the book reviews or the emails or anybody else.
it was extremely satisfying to read this comic. beautiful.
Very true and inspirational. Amazingly done! Great job! I would actually purchase the book if you made one! So deep and to the point, with very meaningful art behind it…to the detail!
[...] http://doodlealley.com/2012/09/10/you-are-not-your-art/ [...]
I just.. Four for you, Stephen, four for you! You.. You are amazing, just keep that in mind. Also.. This is coming from a twelve, nearly thirteen year old girl, you are fantastic. Your art is truly amazing and inspiring, by far, you are one of the most intriguing artists I have come across online.
That was so so profound. I was really moved, it brought tears to my eyes, and I don’t know why. Thank you for making me feel this way. ^_^
I… I really have to think over this.
Dunno when I’ll reach a conclusion. It may take months. I may write to you if I reach any worthy conclusion on this.
Stephen is absolutely right: that art is interpreted by limited human subjective perception, but is eternal in essence, formed from an objective existence that transcends time, space, and culture, and is beyond humanity.
From the blacks and whites in morality emerge the grays. But if there was no black nor white, there would be no gray; indeed, there would be nothing at all.
There IS objectivity in existence, which can be discovered at least partly. I would be glad to talk to you about it as well if you’d like!
Beautiful art, and glorious wisdom from above, Stephen.
‘It takes nine months to create a comic book that can be read in twenty minutes’
I confess that there are so many times when this pains me. The amount of work that goes behind something that can be absorbed in just a few seconds by other people… followed by a comment, whether good or bad, insightful or ignorant, and then dismissed again regardless as the person continues their own life. Or to spend hours on a piece and then upload it to deviantart or something, and then watch as no one views it, favourites it or whatever. Gah, it’s frustrating.
But it’s irrelevant, i realise. Just my vanity pushing through. Would i seriously want the opposite, people worshiping me for my work? That’s not what i do it for.
I appear to be babbling in a comments section. I’ll stop now.
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