• Robison Wells

Art for Art's Sake

In between writing from freelance articles and helping my convalescing daughter recover from surgery, I painted models. And it got me thinking about why we do stuff like that--why we make art. I was sure there was a good quote about making art for art's sake (and I'm still sure there is) but a quick Google search of the terms brought up "Ten Ways to Force Yourself To Do The Things You Hate" and "6 Tips To Make Yourself Do What You Have to Do."

I don't have a problem with that, really, because yes, we all need to eat our vegetables and do our math homework and get a job, even if we don't want to, but there's something to be said about doing things with no extrinsic rewards: doing things just because you want to do them.

I've talked about the Hobby Streak (wherein I work on my hobby for 30 mins a day and post the results on Instagram) and I'm currently on Hobby Streak Day 58. I consider this a huge success. It has made me more disciplined. It has made me a (marginally) better painter. It has made me accountable. Is it making the world a better place? Probably not. It might bring the occasional like on social media, which means someone somewhere gets a few seconds of pleasure from it, but I'm not exactly Leonardo da Vinci here.

But I don't care, because I do all of this for me. Yes, I have a (very small) YouTube channel where my (very small) following watches my videos. But even then, I'm breaking every rule about how to be a good YouTuber. I work professionally in online marketing, and I know the right way to reach an audience and I'm ignoring all of that. My videos are essentially me talking about my philosophies of life while painting soldiers, which means that I'm not really hitting the wargame audience or the vlogging audience. I have a brand, it's just not a brand that anyone cares about.

And I DON'T CARE. I love what I do, and I love the format of my videos, and even though they don't get a lot of views, I get a kick out of making them. Because I'm making art for myself. And while, yes, I would love it if the monetization paid for more than a few models a month, I don't feel beholden to the algorithm.

This is something that I've never been able to achieve with writing: doing it for the pure fun of it. Writing has always been stuck in my head as something I have to make money at, which may very well be why it's so hard to do.

With painting and making videos (that, admittedly, aren't exactly Oscar winners) I have creative freedom to do whatever I want. And I like that. Maybe five years from now I'll look back on this post, on Hobby Streak Day 1,825, and see that I've made a small living out of it. Or maybe five years from now I will hardly remember that I tried in the first place. But for now, I'm loving it because I'm being me and I don't care about what other people think or where I'm going. I'm enjoying the process.

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