To the editor:
Van Gogh only sold a few paintings in his lifetime. But his artwork is priceless today.
Herman Melville was a little known author who wrote Moby Dick early in his career. It never sold during his lifetime. Now many consider it ?The Great American Novel.?
Emily Dickinson wrote over 2,000 poems in her lifetime. Her will stipulated that they all be burned at the time of her death. Her sister-in-law ignored her request. Her poems are now considered some of the best written in the English language - and she is considered to be among the very finest of our American poets.
Anne Frank could not take her diary with her when she was arrested by the Nazis and taken of to a concentration camp. The diary was found and guarded and given to her father after the war. He published it. But for years it was challenged as a fake or forgery. It took twenty years before it was fully authenticated. Now it is one of the most widely read and respected memoirs in the English language.
Every book, painting, song, sculpture, play, game, or poem you create has a life of its own. You may try to promote it, sell it, advertise it, and/or publicize it with little to no success during your lifetime. But it may still become the success you wanted it to be after you?re gone.
Your work has intrinsic value - whether a million people see it, read it, or watch it, or not. The number of people that buy your work is just one way success can be measured. It sure is nice to make a lot of money but it does not prove the worth of your creation. The process of creating something can be considered a reward in and of itself. Especially if the finished product represents the best you can do.
Every person who has the courage and commitment to create art should never give up that work no matter what. No amount of so-called failure should ever prevent an artist from continuing the work that is in them to create. And no artist should ever try to own, possess, or control the destiny of their work. Let the work find its own destiny. The same way you would let your child find their own way in life.
Do not hang on to it, no more than you would hang on to a relationship that has ended. Set them free. Set it free.
Great success during one?s lifetime, either financially or through awards or in any way else, should always include helping other artists create their own work. That is the tradition of great artists - to be generous to other artists. Andy Warhol did so as did many others do now.
Art is what preserves and distills a culture. We must appreciate our artists and the work they create. Now as much as ever. Whether they become rich and famous or not! We must support our local artists.
- Jim Turner, Fairfield