January 17, 2024•611 words
The human body is a sort of artwork. The way a sculptor molds clay or casts metal to create a statue, is parallel to the way a bodybuilder adds muscle and subtracts fat to create a new physique on themselves.
When I'm in the gym I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others and making myself someone else's imaginary competition. I look at their muscular development and think to myself "damn he looks amazing, I wonder how I can look like him". They didn't ask for this comparison, I just make it up when I look over. The problem with this is that I don't see all the progress that it took to make it to where he was. If I've only been lifting for a couple months and I compare myself to someone who's been naturally lifting for a couple years (meaning without steroids/PED's), it's possible that if I were to optimize everything from my sleep to my diet, that I could in actuality be progressing faster than him even if I don't look like him. That doesn't take into account the 'newbie gains' by the way, it's just an example.
When we look at someone else's creation, be it their own body or a piece of art or music, we often neglect the decision-making process of how art becomes what it is in it's finality. Artists have no idea what they're doing because part of the decision-making process of creating art is discovering a new world over the horizon of the established culture, like an island that hasn't been discovered yet; this 'island' could be a spiritual force or a unique take on current world affairs - something that does not currently provably exist. Artists take what they find from this island of non-existence and present it to the established culture, and more often than not are criticized for it. This is what makes good art.
When making art I have a set of tools that I use and a baseline idea of what I want to create. As the process goes on, I'm reaching over that horizon (which is individual to each person) to extract information from the void let's call it, and decide which tools on the fly fulfill the purpose of materializing that information into the real world onto a piece of art. Eventually the end artwork is massively different than what I initially wanted to create. The reason why you think your art looks like shit while other people's is great, is for 2 reasons. 1) You have a different horizon than them with different islands of immaterialized information, and 2) you're thinking about other people's art-making process as a linear path that you think they already had pre-planned. I promise you an artist does not preplan what they're going to create. The final artwork is decided as a result of the process - the product doesn't dictate the process. To decide on a product beforehand is to let culture influence what decisions you're going to make to fulfill the needs for that product. If you ignore that, and simply decide you're going to do what you want to decide on, then the product emerges from that, and the culture will hate you for it. Fuck 'em is what I say. But in any case, art isn't made in a consciously linear way and "professionals" have no idea what they're doing until they are in the middle of doing it. They're just better at tapping into the void, and you're just recreating what's already been created. Get uncomfortable reaching over that horizon into the unknown, and everything falls into place after that.