Lou Reed died yesterday. There was a quote in the news about his death. It went something like this: “The crappier the music that I make, the more people seem to buy it.”
It made me think again about what makes an artist successful or great? His art? His personality? Their creativity? Their use of magenta? Luck? The answer is actually pretty simple. Other people.
Think about it. When is something valuable? When people start to believe it is. When they say that it’s great and spread the word. And not just any people. The ones who have some value, some sort of status, the ones that people listen to. For example Vincent van Gogh was nothing but a madman until finally a group of acclaimed art experts decided that he was a genius. Without these experts, he would have been forgotten by history.
The world is a bit different now, you have the internet and a bunch of sites where you can upload your stuff for anyone to see. The beauty of it is that anyone can be an expert. Someone, technically anyone can and will define whether your art is of any value or not. For you to be successful you need other people. They will in the end tell you if you are worth it or not. Sounds a bit depressing? Here is the positive thing. Success and making art is not the same thing. You can make great art without any success and you can be successful and still make crap. And to be more complicated it is not this black and white, plenty shades of grey(hahaha) in between.
We need other people, we just can’t do it alone. We need others to listen to our music, to read our novels. Just be careful, don’t let others define too much who you really are. Like in the Loréal add, no matter what, you are worth it. Find yourself.
P.S. The title refers to my all time favourite story, Neil Gaiman’s Other people. Be warned, it is not that uplifting. You can read it here if you are interested: