A few days ago, I talked to a guy that plays the piano. He uses YouTube tutorials to learn new songs and told me that he would like to record himself playing the piano. I asked him if he would put the recordings online somewhere, and his reply was one I have heard often before:
“Yes, if they are good.”
I believe in releasing as much art as possible, even if the artist does not think that their art is “good”. I have often heard people claim that there is “too much bad art” out there so it is difficult to find the “good” stuff. I strongly disagree with this point of view.
Consider this: A toddler draws their first doodle and proclaims: “Look, it’s mommy and daddy!”. This example illustrates my two main points for this post:
- “Good” is highly subjective. To most people, the toddler drawing will probably look like randomly connected lines. To the parents, the drawing marks an important moment in the child’s development.
- “Good” is often a result of unnecessary self-imposed criticism. The toddler does not have this. They really do think that their drawing looks like mommy and daddy.
While the first point is commonly stated as “people have different tastes”, we do not talk enough about the second point although it is highly endemic in our society.
As we age, self-criticism often increases. This is not inherently a bad thing. After all, it is important to improve our skills and a healthy amount of self-criticism and feedback might help with that. However, it becomes a problem when we start giving up completely. I think there are several reasons why this happens and it is often a social issue. For example, we institutionalize criticism at an early age in our schools, we glorify high-performing individuals to the point that if you cannot perform at the same level, then it is not worth doing it at all in the first place. And finally, there are always a horde of “critics” that will gladly tell you if they do not like something.
When it comes to art, the focus is often on the end result, not the journey and the story behind the art. I am not saying that we should release everything we create, but too much self-imposed criticism is not doing any good for anyone, especially not ourselves. For example, creating a full piano cover of a song is a major achievement, and although it might not get a million likes on YouTube, it is still worth sharing, even if just one other person listens to it.
This is a wonderful time to share art, especially digital art. Having a blog is great for writing, SoundCloud is great for sharing music, Flickr is an excellent photo-sharing app, etc. So get your stuff out there. If you enjoyed creating it, other people might enjoy it too.