To be great is to be misunderstood. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I should be clear at the start here. The title, “Art & The Misunderstood” is not about misunderstood art. Though that is part of it. I am referring to the “misunderstood” part as many things. Many things in life that we shy away from, or make us feel uncomfortable. Things that we don’t fully understand so we move on to something safer that we already know about or that has less risk of disappointment. In other words, most people today would rather play it safe, take the easy way through life than risk change.

You see, I believe most people equate trying and failing to failure. Nothing could be further from the truth, nothing. The second you decide to try you have succeeded. If you fail, that is simply a different outcome to your trying then you had hoped for. Failing has nothing to do with failure. That is to say, failing is part of trying, failure is what takes place when you stop trying.

Popularity & Creativity

What does this have to do with art you may be wondering? In truth, it has nothing to do with art, unless….. Unless you put your art into the popularity arena. The moment you do you begin judging what is a success and what is a failure. The problem is you will be basing those assessments not on your own personal creative vision, but on other peoples opinions.

I know the vast majority of artists want to put their work out into the public arena, but for various reason hesitate when too much thought is put into it. In other words, if they believe there is a chance others won’t like it, they second-guess themselves.

You Decide

So where does the problem come in? I hope you see this coming. The problem is not necessarily listening to others opinions, but having others influence what you do and the reasons you do it. Art is not a puppy, there is no “right” way to approach it or nurture it.

You see, when one begins taking others opinions about their own art to seriously, they will begin to change their art, themselves, their desires, not for personal satisfaction, but to satisfy others. That is the great misunderstood part of not only art but living a personally fulfilling life.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. Stephen Hawking

I understand I am stating my opinion here and you may be thinking why should you even believe that! You don’t need to. That is the whole point.  You don’t need to believe what I am saying. You just need to believe in yourself. I am only stating what I believe. If that in some way can be of help, great.

Life Is Not A Competition – Really

This whole subject has come up after reading an article about photography and competitions. You know the ones where a “winner” is chosen, usually by someone who is supposed to know something about art. Uhh…. hang on just a minute. There seems to be something missing from that last sentence. Did you notice that? Did you notice that the one or ones that choose the winner are supposed to know something about art? About Photography? But, not about you? This may sound somewhat uncaring on my part, but I am seriously doubtful that they care two hoots and a holler about you. I mean how could they? They know nothing about you. Could the same be said of today’s social media craze?

Don’t get me wrong, being misunderstood does not have to be a bad thing. What needs to be important is that you understand yourself. You understand why you do what you do, and you understand what your motives and goals are. And having a goal or goals of making others like your art or even you are not beneficial goals. They would be sycophant delusions.

Is it bad to be misunderstood? I don’t believe so. It can be frustrating for sure. But as I have stated many times over the years, most things worth having don’t come easy. Patience with yourself, understanding of your motives, and a healthy appreciation of what you stand for are well worth the bits of frustration that creeps in from now and then. 

Change your thoughts and you change your world. -Norman Vincent Peale

Lady Slipper Orchids | ©Brad Mangas


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