How To Be An Artist


“Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?” — Edgar Allan Poe


The kook in the picture… that’s me.

When I was a little younger.

A would-be artist with delusions of grandeur.

I was absolutely clueless.

Nice stupid haircut, though.

And the geekish glasses weren’t bad, either.

Mind the Otto Grotewohl memorial plaque!

He was the first president of East Germany.

Makes a nice pertinent background, doesn’t it?

Being clueless didn’t keep me from thinking that I had a lot of significant things to say.

And the world better listen.

And there you have it.

The essential prerequisite:

A big, inflated ego.

A deep, heartfelt conviction:

I’m significant.

You just can’t do without.

You can do without a lot of talent.

But not without your big, fat ego.

And not only that – an artist friend of mine recommended to act outright insane.

To cultivate an eccentric and/or freakish persona.

To live up to the stereotype.

My attempts in that direction looked like this.

1. Big ego.

2. Silly glasses.

That’s mandatory.

Moreover, you have to be convinced, that the world owes you a living.

Only then you may deign to dabble occasionally in painting… prose… poetry…

You lack the inspiration?

No problem.

Artists of all times have always sought the help of les paradis artificiels…

A drug habit will only boost your credibility.

As well as any kind of mental disorder.

I am not being cynical.

This is more or less based on… uh… empirical data.

This was my frame of mind back then.

I was a hopeless romantic.

And I’m afraid I still am.




Peter Bies © 2010 

11 thoughts on “How To Be An Artist

  1. Ok, you are getting quite personal, Peter.
    Here is what I think:
    An artist has no doubt that he has to do it – at least for a while. So he is stupid or wise enough to think this has to be done by me – otherwise nobody will never do this. He claims it as his cultural duty or maybe blames it on his mental disorder, but he has to do it. That is what we admire and what we wonder about. and that is how the game is played.

    If you do music from time to time or you play tennis once a week, you wouldn´t call yourself a musician or a tennis player – would make no sense and would be misleading. But calling yourself “artist” is often enough a hide away because of not knowing what to do and being lazy.
    As long as society has not realised this problem all the art collages will stay institutions mainly for self-deception. Close them down.

    It is not important what you call yourself as long as you do something that relates/responds to other people. Peter, it is not a dream within a dream – you really are an artist with words
    … as long as you write.

  2. Heisst es nicht:
    “Kunst kommt von können”? Nee, eher : ” kunst kommt von müssen!”
    (Allerdings weiß ich nicht ob “von” oder “vom” gesagt wird)

    Sorry, no english.

  3. … käme es von “Wollen”, hieße es “Wullst” – hä.

    Bei Castingshows sieht man dieser Tage allerhand Leute, die sogar zu “müssen” scheinen.
    Entsteht dadurch ein wesentlicher Beitrag?
    Das Können steht nicht hoch im Kurs in der bildenden Kunst – und es ist die einzige Disziplin überhaupt, die sich das leistet. Aber nützt es ihr was, dass so viele sich berufen fühlen, ohne Ahnung vom “Warum” und “Wozu” und natürlich vom “Wie”?
    Wenn das “Müssen” und “Wollen” nicht mit dem “Können” zusammenfällt, entstehen verfehlte, vergebliche Bemühungen.

  4. … käme es von “dürfen”, hieße es Durfst.
    Und Du wärest ein Durfstler. Oder Wullstler, my dear Jochen.
    Die Akademie der Schönen Wüllste…
    No, seriously.
    Vergebliche Bemühungen, right.
    Vain effort.
    Nothing to add to that.

  5. “Es ist die einzige Disziplin überhaupt, die sich das leistet…”
    Die Werbung könnte sich das nicht erlauben.
    Erzählkunst und Popmusik auch nicht.
    Why’s that so…?

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