Weapons of a Warrior Artist: Identity – Know Thyself
‘takes a deep breath, and heaves a sigh’
Sorry, I made the mistake of looking at Facebook after the 9th. Not a good plan. Really, folks, click this post, and take a fiver. After all, Warriors are amazing, and so are Artists, so what happens when you have a Warrior Artist?
In Dungeons & Dragons, we call them Bards.
(I love Lindsey Stirling!)
For some, the weapon is music, for some it’s the written word, and for still others, it’s visual – whether digital or physical – art. The medium doesn’t truly matter for these Warrior Artists, because what they have in common is passion, belief, and identity. Right now, I want to focus solely on Identity, as it’s foundational to everything a Warrior Artist creates.
Who Are You?
Before we go on, I want you to do something. Get a piece of paper and a writing implement. Now, write down between five and ten words you would use to answer the question, “Who are you?”
Now get another piece of paper and do the same thing for this question. “How do you identify?”
Got those down? Chances are, if you really look at both lists, they’re a bullet by bullet of characteristics and skills.
Now, crush that piece of paper into a ball, and toss it across the room – no, not in a trash can. Why? Because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Individuals are the smallest forms of synergy. With me so far? No? Alright, let’s take a quick look at your lists. Pick one thing on yours, I’ll pick one thing on mine.
Mine will be writer. (Note, I could as easily go with transman for most of this.) Now, writer is a profession, a set of skills, and a characteristic. I could identify as a writer, and say that writer is my identity, but that’s only part of me.
I’m also a hobby sketch artist. And a transman. And I have ADHD. And I could keep going. However, none of these defines all, or even half of me, because they are all PART of me. Yet I have no singular claim to any of them. It is understanding – or striving to understand this – that is the key to Identity when it comes to a Warrior Artist.
I could (actually did) dedicate an entire blog post to the concept. My post Dismantling Self: The Distorted Reflections We Show The World came up in September as my way of describing my experience with this whole concept of identity, self, and why it’s no longer something I cling to.
I Can Skip That, Right?
If you’re an artist reading this, and you’re tired of wondering why creative block is still a thing, you absolutely can’t skip trying to understand this. Back in February, when I first ventured into the blogsphere, I wrote about a cultural shift that will allow us as artists to stop ourselves from falling into the bondage that is working for free and making other people money. The problem is we – as individuals – are notoriously bad at standing up for ourselves when it comes to our art, especially at first.
We crave hearing that we’re great. That someone loves our work. That’s fine, and that is also why Identity and the ability to take apart the way others see us and stay true to our own values – NOT our characteristics – is vital. It’s what allows us to know when someone is genuinely interested in our work and our capabilities and our success, or when they’re blowing glittery smoke up our tails and trying to convince us to do something for them that will, in the end, leave us with nothing more than the ghost of a good feeling. Most of all, it allows us to hold the bearing of a professional, and utilize all that go pro advice wandering around the internet. When we take ourselves seriously, others have no option but to take us seriously as well.
The Benefits of Knowing Identity
The largest benefit I’ve seen has been from first-hand experience of other professionals. They know what they love, they know what they want. It’s the knowledge they have of their own Identity, their own Core, that carries through in their art, and it changes the way I see the world. Yes, I’ve encountered works clearly created by people who knew this about themselves, but until the beginning of this year, I didn’t know anyone personally. Then I met a few.
Kristen Lamb of Warrior Writers and author of Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital Age gave me renewed purpose in my own writing. She’s also currently my boss, and the only reason I ever started blogging. And we met through a chance encounter on the internet. My Facebook threw one of her blog posts at me. I loved her no nonsense style and the sense that here was a woman who made no apologies, took no prisoners, and knew what she wanted and where she was going. If you read my blog and enjoy it, thank her for writing ROTM.
Maria Grace of Random Bits of Fascination has done the impossible, as well. Her Regency work Pemberly: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon managed to get me interested in Regency fiction, enough that I’m planning to read Jane Austen’s original Pride and Prejudice at some point. After all, who doesn’t love dragons? It’s an honor and a privilege to work with her, and she’s another I would consider to know exactly what she wants out of her art and out of life.
These are two I can think of most quickly, and there are many others. My point is, when you encounter the works of a Warrior Artist, you KNOW it. You know it because it doesn’t feel like just another book or just another picture. Whether the subject matter is real or not, there is a gravity to the work that doesn’t exist without the creator’s willingness to include a piece of themselves in the creation. It is that gravity, that sense of reality, that changes people. When that happens, an artist can begin to change the world.
What pieces of art – be it visual or written – have you encountered that changed your life because of that quality? That sense of the artist’s presence in the piece?