What does it mean to be an artist?
To be creative?
There is a great divide between people who consider themselves “creative,” and those who do not. We live in a very creative time, when more people than ever are able to express and commoditize their creativity. It is a great thing that so many people have the ability to be creative.
But at the same time, the commonness of creativity may have a strange effect on us. Maybe with everyone flooding the market with creativity, the outsiders feel more “out” than ever. Maybe with such a crowded marketplace, where we can all share our ideas, we still feel at the end of the day that we have not been heard.
Most tragic of all, I think, is the easy trap of the creative to turn creativity into a “platform.” Suddenly, everything becomes an attention-getting device, a way to attract more followers, more fans.
And it is in this that I turn to the words of a creative who was altogether ignored in his time. Vincent Van Gogh was a lonely man, alienated from those closest to him. He was dismissed by critics. He could not even find acceptance in the church. Nothing about his art was about attracting fame or fleeting attention for himself. He was a disenfranchised person who simply wanted to reach out to people.
Perhaps this thought is even more timely with the impending pink and red holiday coming up this week.
What if our creative energies, our talents, our skills, all went to the place that Jesus commanded us that all our energies go?
What if the things most precious to us were not actually about us, but about everyone else? Imagine what a difference that would make.