Someone on the LDS Artists list asked us all to talk about our greatest challenges as LDS artists. Here are mine:
My mother-in-law recently paid to take her daughters and their children to Disneyland. While some would have been frustrated by not being able to go along, I was thrilled. Why? I finally had some large blocks of time where I could get some real recording done. Sure, I would have had a great time with my kinds in mouseville, but I’ve done that before, and we’ll do it again. For me it was a wonderful time to play reclusive bachelor and just make music.
Probably the biggest challenge I face as an artist is that between earning a living, raising a family, being a husband, and serving in the church, there is precious little time left for music. I have to steal away for moments. I wake up a little early and start on a drum track. I stay up late and cut some vocals. A half hour here, 45 minutes there. I take a sketchpad to a park on my lunch hour. Bit by bit, the work gets done.
I wish I were independently wealthy and I could just create all day for my “job”. That can’t happen right now. But bit-by-bit, I still go on creating.
I was in an art store the other day, and my wonderful wife asked me if I wanted to get anything. I really don’t need more art supplies. The one thing I need, they don’t sell. Time.
I’ve been working on my CD for two years, now, diligently. I’m hoping it will be done in another six months or so. There have been many times during that process, and in the years before that I wished it were done and out. I’ve wanted so badly to have it, that many times I’ve forgotten that I need to do it in the Lord’s time. I think to myself, “Lord, I’m doing this to your glory, why isn’t it happening!?”
Part of the problem with that is that it has led to jealousy. As my friends get their CD’s done and in the stores, I have found myself at times not able to celebrate for them as I’d like. In truth, I’ve been learning some patience, and in recent times, I’ve found more joy in other’s successes. I remember when a friend of mine won a Pearl Award, I think there were few cheering as loud as I was that day.
I’ve had to learn to be a tortoise, not a hare.
I’ve also had to face some very humbling experiences. It’s very hard become a great artist when you already think you’re great. I really believe that I have been blessed with some wonderful talents. Unfortunately, the skills to utilize those talents are coming more slowly.
I find it hard to accept what I have, instead of constantly wanting more. Gadget addiction is rampant in the music industry! I used to try and convince myself that they were tools. They’re not. They’re toys. And I constantly think, “Wow, if I just had one of those, I could make great art!” When the reality is that George Martin and the Beatles made “Sgt Pepper” with WAY less technology than I currently have in my basement. This technology allows me to do things they couldn’t even dream of in their day. And yet, they still created great art.
I also have to face the fact that when I perform, it’s not always just for the Lord’s glory. This is something I constantly struggle with, and it’s rooted in knowing where my songs and my talents come from. I need to be much more grateful.
There are lots of other challenges, but those are temporary, practical issues. How to find performance opportunities, how to broaden my audience base, how to better my voice and my performance. How to overcome the prejudice of church members. These are all valid challenges, but they aren’t the core things that I need to work on the most.