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Mar
02

Joe @ Off the Map Tattoo: What Makes a Hero?

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In recent weeks I've heard a lot of friends and/or colleagues express awe toward a hand full of particular artists for their dedication that seems to be above and beyond that of everyone else in their artistic field. One said artist is known to wake up, run five miles, draw a full backpiece for PRACTICE during breakfast, and THEN start a full day of tattooing as many as six days a week; most nights finding time to paint as well. As the stories of these exploits are shared I watch the room as the collective jaw drops to the floor. Their faces are washed with confusion, completely bewildered of tasks that appear near godlike in the land of lowly mortals.
At this point my face washes with confusion as well, however my own confusion comes from a different place. You see, what I heard in this story is that this dude takes care of himself and is an artist that does art. When you say it like that the story starts to sound pointless. A guy taking care of himself is not a big deal to anyone except that guy. My dad is in his 50's and does the p90x every day but nobody gathers around the water cooler to share excitement for his exploits. And of course an artist does art…that's the damn definition of an artist!
If it's understood that artists do art, and if they love doing art they most likely do it a lot, why do so many professional artists do art so little? It seems like the amazement is association. All these tasks are being considered work, and work is labor, and labor is hard. So in that case sure, the story then changes to “This guy wakes up does work then comes home and does work during breakfast, then he gets dressed and goes to work!” and that sounds crazy! If that man frames houses he's dead in like five years! but that's not what happened. This guy woke up and made efforts to have a longer life with a healthier heart and lungs so he can have more time to be a father/husband/artist. Then he drew pictures during breakfast. He has done that since he was five years old, you know why? Because drawing is fun, remember? Then he went to work.
If we celebrate a man for being the person he claims to be and taking care of himself in the process then what does that say about what we expect from ourselves? If we turn regular men into our heroes and raise them on pedestals for doing regular things with focus and dedication then we give the illusion that normal tasks that happen all over the world are somehow unattainable except to a select “talented” few. Maybe we should stick to measuring artists by the quality of the work they produce instead of how often or fast they produce it. Let them be just normal people who work hard.

Just a thought.

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