Whether you are a professional artist or not, if you identify with being a “creative individual”, then quite possibly you may feel the same responsibilities to your work (however you choose to define it) that artists feel towards their work. Let’s see if that could be true.
The focus of an artist’s work is often three-directional in the sense that he/she feels a strong (often simultaneous) responsibility to: themselves; their work; and their impact outside of themselves.
By responsibility, this may be defined by words like: ownership, integrity, honesty, duty, and accountability.
The ten most common responsibilities that you, or I, as an Artist (or as a Creative Person) likely feels, would include one or more of the following, i.e., a responsibility to:
- Our selves (truth, honesty, integrity)
- Our culture or heritage
- Society; the people around us; the world we live in
- Our gift(s), talent(s), skill(s)
- Our work (what we deliver)
- Our message
- Our craft (the art form)
- Our medium (through which we deliver it)
- Our practice (our body of work)
- Our theme or subject matter
We are human and our work, both directly and indirectly, reflects our humanity. We want our work to come alive with soul, purpose, energy, emotion; etc. We often believe in a purpose higher than ourselves. We often strive to: have an impact; make some contribution; add value; be relevant; show honesty and truth in our work and how we choose to making a living with it; reflect on new ways of seeing or thinking about things; add to the conversation; question; think; inspire; validate; reflect; teach; explore ideas; etc.
As we grow, our work incorporates and reflects that growth. Yet, still all three ghosts of time are always there. Time acts as both our record and our point of reflection, i.e., our past (our history); the present; our future (our legacy).
Is what an artist (or any creative person) feels responsible for really all that different from the responsibilities that motivate any of us in our jobs, hobbies, families, too? Isn’t life, like art, simply about being human and finding a way to pursue a purpose outside of ourselves?
(Note: To read direct quotes from artists responding to the question: “What is your responsibility as an artist?”, see this article, The Artist’s Responsibility, from the Chicago Arts Archive, and from which this article is largely inspired.)