Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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03/12/2004: "Specialist Vs. Expert Part II"

Well, I got an email this morning from a fellow artist and want to share part of her response to the age old question I posed yesterday about is it better to do a lot of things well or be the best at one thing.

Part of the response was: ..."I, too, have such varied artistic/creative interests. And it does sometimes bother me that I am an expert at nothing. There is no one thing I do better than anyone or know more about than anyone."....

..."Why do I even try to make any kind of living from my art? Then I go home and create something and realize I do it because I love it. Money has nothing to do with it. If I love what I'm doing, maybe it doesn't matter that I'm not an expert at it."

At first I felt like THAT'S SO TRUE! And I remembered a fellow blogger Chris who left the comment awhile back (on my entry about does rejection ever get any easier?):

"Focus on your work, not the impact it has on other people."

It all comes back to the fact that we have to do what we feel inspired to do and when the inspiration hits us. And I guess if that takes us all over the map, then so be it.

I also agree with Thomas who wrote "At some point you have honed your skills in different places and you will start to connect the dots and something truly and unexpectedly original and creative will pop out."

Or at least I'm given hope that that might be the case.

But then...

I started to think that the above sentiments are more applicable to certain creative outlets more so than others. For example, writing, drawing, and painting (2-d mediums) are for the most part solo activities that you can do in the privacy of your own home with very little in the way of personal resources. All you need is some paper or canvas and a pencil or some paint and brushes. In this case, just doing what you love is enough I suppose.

But take the case of my other areas of interest. With music, if you can only afford a crappy low end instrument, you'll never get the kinds of tones that produce goose bumps, in yourself or anyone else. And to take it further, there is only so much you can do without a band, and even having a band, if you don't have an audience, it can feel a lot like jacking off.

And with making movies it's even more challenging. You need to have capital...sure, the playing field is becoming more level with digital video, but you still need money to pay for a camera, film (or tape), dollies, tracks and cranes!

If you can't pay your actors or crew you have to settle for what you can get and when you can get it, a real nightmare, and if you are writing the screenplay, you have to change what you'd really like to do and say, a thousand times over because you know you can't afford the high tech rain scene or the explosion or whatever.

In order to direct a film, you have to be 100 percent committed to just that and that alone. There are so many talented people out there going to film school and working shit part-time jobs so they can achieve their dream of making movies; you can't compete with that in any kind of half assed way. And it's frustrating when I know the movies in my head are never going to make it to the big screen, at least not the way I see them.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes doing something because you love it isn't enough. Especially if one of the mediums you’re interested in is one that necessitates the confidence and financial backing of others in a horribly competitive field.