The annual identity crisis.

A short introduction. Am I the only one who feels that art is the most beautiful struggle to ever strike an individual? It can be an ugly feeling. It can be dark and quite debilitating, just look at Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway. These two authors blessed the world with their breath-taking art, but this trait that allowed them to create great works, ate away at them, so much so that they ended their lives all too soon. I was recently talking to one of my friends who is struggling to decide which direction to take her artistic ability. We agreed that the art major sounds easy, but emotionally it is quite difficult. The constant questions of doubt. The shame over past works. The struggle to create new ones when uninspired. I find that it is truly the most difficult thing to balance the incessant feeling of self-doubt with the desire to create something new and to try and satisfy yourself as well as others in that endeavor. So is it just easier to give in, sell out, and become a cliche? 

It is bittersweet, finding one's artistic niche. 

On the one hand, it simplifies the complicated artistic process I discussed earlier. It takes the stress out of this process, because the territory you're working in isn't new. Once you have found your niche, you have developed your style, and people can recognize your work quite easily. That can be great. It can also be boring. 

But it's so easy. It's so tempting; we all chase after it without thinking too much. It's a very desirable thing to acquire, especially if photography is less of a hobby and more of a career. That being said, I've watched a number of my once-favorite photographers find themselves stuck in a commonplace, trite, and prosaic rut and run out of new material and fresh inspiration. It is quite tragic. 

No one wants to be a jack of all trades and a master of none, but are we willing to sacrifice the artist within us, limit our audience and clientele to such a small number, that we emotionally suffer in the long run? 

Personally, I'd rather wander around in my field, dabbling in everything that tickles my fancy, and be as anxious as ever from the stress of the creative process, than to find myself one day, stuck in something I hate. 

For some reason, I get the feeling that photographers don't realize they are setting themselves up for eternal strife until it is too late. I have been striving to find one myself recently, and that is why I feel moved to write this, to consider, before diving in too deep into one area of photography or art in general, whether or not I really want this. It is like I can see this hindering process taking place with each photo I choose to take, but I can't do anything about it. I must mourn the loss of potential futures wherein I could have become someone who created something else.

I don't think many people realize what a struggle this can be for many new artists.  I don't think many new artists realize the clean slate they have before them, whether they perceive this as a challenge or a blessing, that is for them to decide. 

Maybe it is like we all just need an artistic cleanse every once in a while.