Sacred profanity

IMG_1512 When all is said and done, art is neither paint nor print, tune nor rhythm, but the movement behind any given media. As abstract as this may sound, one must draw the line between an artist and a skilled technician. Skill and technique are crucial; essential building blocks for the creation process. But being skilled at a craft does not automatically give you the title of an artist. A painter who only copies the greats to develop skill but refrains from the burden of true creation is not an artist. Neither is the musician who chooses to use his skill to please a crowd over authentic expression.

An artist is one who toils and sweats in his craft, making it beautiful not in the eyes of the world, but in his own eyes, and ultimately the eyes of God. This is an isolating process. Both freeing and caging; a schizophrenic battle of self-loathing and pride. It isn't a question of whether the process is worth the product because the process is the product. In simple terms, the defining character of an artist is his or her innate need to create. This is not referent to the need to create because of a deadline prescribed by a client, but a carnal and human lust to bring about something that wasn't. The drive artists feel is a gift. A gift tainted by fallen eyes such that all they see is a curse.

This dichotomy between an artist and a skilled technician is as vast as what is sacred and profane. There is no shame in being a skilled technician. But when a skilled technician is seated in the place of an artist, profane art is produced. Music becomes homogenized by record labels whose sole purpose is to turn hungry ears into cash cows. Listening to contemporary pop music, and indeed, contemporary Christian music, is like trying to live on a Twinkie-based diet. You get the sweet taste of factory-perfected products, tried and tested on sample groups of their target audience, but no nutrients to feed your soul.

We need to return to home grown organic farms of artists of all faculties, growing songs and pictures that they themselves would consume. So hug your resident artist. They may be struggling to keep an ideal that you unknowingly treasure alive.