I often talk about what it means for me to write. To be able to translate the wrangling mess of confusion bubbling on the surface of my mind, to put it down on paper or screen, bare. To rid myself of that pressure, so intense that it sears my being every time I postpone writing. It’s a privilege to have the freedom and capacity to sit down and ball up all that thoughts into a form that could hit people, make them pause, muse, smile, relate, and even change their minds.
In a way, creating art is such a selfish act. I write because I want to spew out ideas galloping in my head. I expose part of myself when I write, and I do so willingly, deliberately, consciously choosing and trying to achieve the emotion I wish to impart.
In other words, artists often create art to satisfy themselves and their egos.
What of the consumer, though?
Browsing through photographs from Melbourne, I came across one of a graffiti. It was at one of the many infamous graffiti alleyways of the city. And on it was a piece of advice you’d least expect to receive from an overcrowded wall. Free your mind, it said. As if it knew that despite wandering around town ecstatic at the experience of exploring a new city, I was processing angst and fear. Although I was in the moment, taking in the beauty that sprawled around me, inhaling the chemical scent of rebellion splashed across the walls, I still had other things in mind. Some of those were important things but most menial—like where I’d go next or what I’d get for dinner afterwards. And as if it knew the meaningless banter cantering through my head.
It wasn’t new. I’d heard the same words many times in various places. And yet, that work of art spoke to me. Waking me, throwing me off of everything I could’ve hoped for.
That’s what art does to the consumer.
Art, when delivered at the right time to the right person, becomes a conversational medium. The creator doesn’t need to intend to self-satisfy, but instead to share, inform, and educate.
That’s when art transcends personal involvement, transitioning into a commitment to convey something to society. From being what the artist feels, it becomes what they want you to feel.