Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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05/10/2004: "Are All Artists Exhibitionists and Egomaniacs?"

Awhile ago you may remember me complaining that a friend told me I was very “self centered”. When I complained about that to another friend, they kind of more or less agreed but tried to be nice about it saying “you always have so many projects going on that you want to talk about, but maybe you need to show more interest in what the other person might have to say”.


I started thinking about how for the majority of my life, I’ve always felt more comfortable around creative types. Visual artists, writers, musicians, and people involved in the theater (those folks are stone cold crazy)…and in the context of those groups of friends, I never felt self-centered at all. At any given party we’d all be competing to get the next word in edgewise...but that was normal and fun; we all had lots of ideas and things we were working on all the time. It was like having a big brainstorming session, everyone bouncing ideas off of each other, everyone very opinionated (and eventually inebriated).

I remember one time visiting my two writer friends Sean and Jenni and we drank several pitchers of Tinto de Verano and Sean broke out the karaoke machine which sober I wouldn’t go near with a ten foot pole, but on this occasion physical altercations actually broke out as we all competed for the mic.

But anyway, as I think of all the people who I consider to be my closest friends in life, individually I’d say most of them are pretty self-centered. In a group of other self-centered people it’s a lot less obvious than when you are a sole self-centered person in a group of non-self-centered people. Then I guess you’re just a big ole hog soakin up the spotlight and getting on everyone’s nerves.

I think being that way must have something to do with being an artist though. I mean, whether you write, play music in a band, act, or have art exhibits, you’re putting yourself out there for public scrutiny. And who but egotistical exhibitionists would invite that kind, nay, CRAVE that kind of scrutiny?

Also, is it possible to be an exhibitionist AND anti-social at the same time?

Anyway, these are all just words, I know…but I’ve been feeling very self-concious lately around the people I know here in Juneau and I've been trying to rationalize things a bit...(thankfully, online I can still be as self-centered as I like).

Replies: 3 Comments

on Monday, May 10th, Dio said

I know what you mean. I am often aware of myself doing the talking all the time. I often have to stop myself and get the other person to talk to me, and concentrate on what they are saying to stop me going off again!

I'm sure that concentration on them comes off as false, like I'm not listening, but I am. I even make a point of deflecting the conversation away from me whenever I can. If someone asks me something, then I roll.

If they look bored I try and get them talking. Its not that I love the sound of my voice or anything either. I just can't help it, I'm a bit anal I suppose. :(

I'm one of those people that everyone comes to for answers as well, a 'you'll know' target. I like that people confer that level of trust on me, but I'm sure they ask knowing that I will whittle away!

That's why I love blogs. I can whittle on in people's comments boxes to my hearts content! ;)

on Monday, May 10th,">Elise said

I think that it's tough when the person/people you're talking to don't have much to say. I guess I have to get over my fear of uncomfortable silences.

And I too am constantly on the lookout for signs of boredom, as someone famous said, you should always leave them wanting more.

on Tuesday, May 11th, Sammy said

I don't think that all artists are self centered. And not all artists choose to have shows eithers. Some of us just make art for the joy of making art. I'm not saying that as a criticism or anything. I don't have shows because I'm too shy and I'm afraid of other's judging my work.