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I’ve looked at life from both sides now…

Bixby Creek Bridge, Big Sur, California

Those of you who know me, know that I can’t stand “either/or” thinking. Maybe we can reduce decision making to a “yes/no,” “on/off,” “1/0” process, but it often involves DISCARDING many other possibilities to get to that point. Many people (especially on Facebook 😉 ) present you with what I call a “false choice” between two things – a choice that really does not reflect the actual situation. If you “buy into” their assumption, you can be pretty easily doomed. :-) Sadly, a lot of strongly “judging” personality types buy into the false assumption, because it is uncomfortable for them to have an undecided mind for too long a time. :-)

The “both sides” that I mention in the title are the “scientific/technical” and the “artistic.” (See, we are already up to THREE, since science and technology are very different. I have spent time with both.)

I really want to talk about the artistic, today.

Artists (from the fine artists that I know to the “BS artists” represented by a former military man who became my manager in high tech), have a number of common characteristics. One of the most important is the ability to create something new by applying imagination to a collection of thoughts, ideas, objects, etc., that they VIEW in a new way! What characteristics distinguish these people? Their ability to SEE, and their ability to IMAGINE. (Much of the other stuff is “merely” hard work, time, training, skill,….) :-)

Much like humans who have “people skills” in corporate organizations, these abilities to SEE and to IMAGINE are not appreciated by those who LACK them! 😉 If these artists were bullies with no people skills, no vision, and no imagination, they would have few problems finding jobs and rising to the tops of organizations! 😉

The lack of appreciation of artistic vision and imagination in a lot of people results in statements like: “I paint, too!” “I took a better photograph than that!” Why do you charge so much for your art?”

Speaking of “charging” – sometimes, artists are actually insecure about the gifts that they possess and about the VALUE of the art that they create. These artists wind up UNDERCHARGING for their work, because they 1) have not charged for their labor, only their materials and 2) are not especially good “businesspeople” and do not realize that ALL of their costs (business insurance, labor, business telephone, Internet, shipping, materials, travel, etc.) must go into their selling prices and be covered by sales. When you work for someone else, ALL of your life’s expenses come out of your SALARY. When you work for yourself, ALL of your business expenses come out of your SALES. Anything left over after all of those costs are covered is your REVENUE! The artists who undercharge both DEVALUE the work of their artistic peers and DRIVE THEMSELVES out of business, but not before hurting other artists.

Now you understand why the overwhelming majority of artists, like the 90% of small business startups (of which artistic businesses are a part) go OUT of business so soon! Andy Warhol said, “An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have.”  Although I understand what he may have meant, I also believe that the statement was “tongue-in-cheek,” because ALL human beings need to have MORE than shelter, food, and the “bare necessities” of life. Artists FEED people with beauty, a new viewpoint, truth, and so many other things. Do such things have VALUE? I believe that they do. As I have matured, I have also come to appreciate the “hidden artist” behind everyday objects and products, from the shapes of bottles to the landscaping layout of parks, to the design of private and public buildings.

So… how do we SUPPORT the Arts and artists? First and foremost: Buy the art! Artists are like other small businesspeople, in that most of them fail, BUT I BELIEVE THAT THE COST OF BUSINESS FAILURE OF AN ARTIST, to the general population, is much greater than the cost of failure of the “widget manufacturer.” There will always be another widget manufacturer. The percentage of people with vision and imagination in the population is so small to begin with that there may NOT be a replacement for the “failed” (in the business sense) artist, at least not for many years, and perhaps, never. Secondly, PROMOTE the art of local artists! Share at least a DISCUSSION of their art, and, when they permit their copyrighted works to be shared, SHARE them.

Be one of those people who discusses IDEAS, rather than events or people. That’s good for yourself, and it’s good for ALL of us!

-Bill at

Cheshire Cat Photo™ – “Your Guide to California’s Wonderland™”

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