Are we at the well or are we not? Are we drinking from the living fount that gives life-sustaining hope? As creatives, we either drink from this well or we have absolutely no business wasting other people’s time. What are we doing?
Think about true inspiration. It is beyond us. It is a stream. It comes in and goes out. It is not for us. It is for our hearers, our watchers, our attenders. It is for the people who will come into contact with our content. Is the content alive or not?
That really is the essential question for the artist. Anyone can create skilled art work. The halls of flea markets are filled with skilled art work. The halls of art galleries. What’s missing? Either we have Big Eyes or we are the husband faking it.
People connect with and engage with the real stuff. They collect and trade the skilled stuff. Skilled but not inspired is the most awful sort of stuff. It breathes with contempt. It is so full of itself it literally has no room for anyone, including an audience.
True art must literally be inspired, that is animated by life. Otherwise it is like the dust God picked up and formed. It may have been art at that point. It may have been skilled at that point. But was without life. Only after God breathed into it was it art.
Suddenly the thing went from form to life. It went from vision to reality. It went from interesting to unbelievable. When the art took on a life of its own it becomes art. Now nothing is art quite like the human life. Of course.
But our artistic pursuits are art nonetheless. They are mini-human lives in a sense. They do take on a sense of life, they are animated, giving life to other things. They are created below that of human life itself, but still they are created.
Not everything God made and was good was human. God made many things. Some of them quite small. Yet even the smallest thing was so beautifully intricate. It bears resemblance to His touch as did the human, just not to the same degree.
So the artist has both realities to understand: art without inspiration is nothing, and inspiration without skill is nothing. We, of course, deal in the realm of skill mostly. Our will is to hone in that skill and cultivate it from the bottom up.
Our skill also must be, if we are serious about art, to listen for and cultivate inspiration. It is not enough to work at our skill nor is it enough to wait around for inspiration. It is the tender balance of both that makes life interesting.
The skilled artist void of inspiration is a poisonous viper. He is an endlessly disappointed critic. Yet one with a daily portion of inspiration but no platform for his art is an endlessly disappointed cynic, convinced no one cares.
We need both. We have to hone our skill. In today’s world that inevitably includes not just our craft but the marketing of our craft. We have to navigate the world of business. But it is worth it. It is worth promoting truly inspired work to the world!