Just asking seems both easier and requiring more courage than actually making art, but equally as vital, as illustrated by Amanda Palmer's TED talk from earlier this year.
And I am terrible at it.
It's terrifying and yes, as she mentioned, it does feel like begging. It isn't though. Begging implies that you are asking for something for nothing. I don't dare speak for other artists, but what I do isn't nothing. It is the complete opposite of that; I make paintings and draw things and write things for a lot of reasons. One of the most important is that I want to share myself, to give of myself to the hundreds of thousands of people with whom I share this planet.
I will be the first to admit that I am not nearly as courageous as she is. Intriguing as it sounds, the idea of painting myself and standing on a city street in a wedding dress as a living statue makes my stomach churn. Even more frightening is the prolonged exchange of eye contact, or thought of stripping naked and letting people draw on me. I easily recognize the impulse to do this as the same one that inspires my most honest paintings and blog posts, but somehow (at least in my case) it doesn't seem to be enough.
"So I had the most profound encounters with people, especially lonely people who looked like they hadn't talked to anyone in weeks, and we would get this beautiful moment of prolonged eye contact being allowed in a city street, and we would sort of fall in love a little bit. And my eyes would say, 'Thank you. I see you.' And their eyes would say, 'Nobody ever sees me. Thank you.'"
I think the missing bit for me is encounters with people, face-to-face. I spend so much time on the internet; I freely admit that I don't always want to see people nor do I want to always be seen. I want the sense of direct connection to people that Palmer talks about here, that seems so vital to her career, but I'm scared of it too.
This is where I come to you, internet. I am asking. Challenge me to make art in the company of others, to make connections with people in my own ways, to find my own ways to be a living statue, at least metaphorically speaking.
Thank you, Amanda Palmer.