Fine Art Witchery: Where the Arts & Magick Meet

An exploration of the metaphysical intersection between the Fine Arts & Witchcraft: including history, current usage, and practical application.

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Pumping & Churning Out Art

A while back, a good friend of mine posted where he was in overall word count on his book project to his personal Facebook page. Someone thought it was their place to tell him that he should be more concerned about content than quantity, and that he was "in danger of churning out too many books." 

"Too many books" was approximately one a year apparently. 

I've seen the same criticism leveled at musicians/bands that produce perhaps a CD a year. 

I yet to have that same crap thrown my way about my art or more writing - but it could be that they're just not going to say it to my face or post it where I can see it. I imagine it's only a matter of time, especially with how my own publishing schedule seems to look like from the outside.  People do express a bit of incredulity at what I am able to do/create, which can be a bit awkward at times. 

On the other hand, there are folks who can't wait for the next book, song, podcast, artwork, etc to come out.  Their enthusiasm is wonderful, but can be a bit daunting at times. Art is a by-product of a need to express something or explore an idea.  Sure, there is the desire/hope that people will enjoy what we make, but for the majority of artists, musicians, writers, and other creators, we make what we do because we HAVE to.  I'm not talking finances - I mean the drive is in our brainmeat. Making stuff keeps us sane (or helps feign the appearance of sanity.)

However, I digress - let's go back to that initial comment about "churning out" work.  I think that it can be a bit too easy to dismiss that sort of commentary as jealousy.  In many situations where people feel need to express themselves like that, I do not doubt that jealousy is indeed the root of it. THEY want to be the ones being published, making the work, doing the thing - but for some reason they're not. And it's far easier to throw shade at someone who is making the thing happen than to self-examine why not you. If pressed, that same person would probably have a list of excuses of why they can't do it. 

But I think what is also true is that most people really don't know or understand what's happening behind the scenes for creative work. Part of this failure is rooted in modern society's failure to value both art and the artist.  In this era of modern manufacturing and "instant" media, many people forget the human minds and hands behind creating art. Another thing is that society has been brainwashed into thinking that everyone must exist by the same work schedule and job mindset. 

For me, I have had combinations of part-time jobs, full-time jobs, and self-employed.  No matter the combination, I still had to make art in some form: dance, illustration, writing, costuming, jewelry, etc. Meaning, either I made the art in addition to my "day job", or that making art is my full-time job.  The latter, which has been my existence going on 6 years now, means I work approximately 70-90 hours a week, 7 days a week all year long.  It means there are sacrifices that I make in regards to family, finances, and fun that other folks with regular jobs don't.  But I'm not complaining - I love what I do.  But it means that I'm devoting a lot more time to what I do than the average person does to their 40-hour a week job.  

I know the same is true for many of the artists, musicians, writers, and other creative folks I know.  If they're not completely self-employed, they're still putting in extra hours to get that art out.  Time that other people may spend watching TV, taking care of children or parents, doing a sport or hobby, or going on vacation gets channeled into making.  Choices and obligations intermingle, taking up time. Sacrifices are made, yet there seems to be a stigma for making them and being successful at what you do. 

Another thing often true with creators is that we go through periods of hyper-activity and lulls. Sure, I can churn out 20 paintings in two weeks, but I may not make another piece of that kind of art for two months.  Instead I'm working on something else - be it writing or touring, or taking care of the "business end" of things: promotion, product, problem solving.  

There's also the appearance of "speed."  Sure, I can make an amazing painting in a matter of hours, but I also have nearly 4 decades of fine art education, skills, and practice that has gotten me here.  Same with writing - all throughout school in the honors classes, there was a time limit for essays, and deadlines for magazines and newspapers. The more you do a thing, the better you get, the less time it might take to generate the initial idea. But really, who is to judge how much time something should take?  Just because I can make art fast and well, doesn't mean that someone who takes a year to do a painting for ANY REASON is not as good as me.  That's such a false dichotomy. Who gets to say what is acceptable in art creation? Only the artist. If the work is good, the work is good, regardless of how much or when. 

Lastly, we may forget that the snippets we see of an artist, musician, or writer's life online is just that: snippets. For every person out there, what we make visible to the world is the story that we tell - or the story people may assume from the threads we make visible. I don't think there's a single professional writer out there that when they post: "I made it to 70K today!" means "I managed to pump out a bunch of trite nonsense that idiots will buy."  Ok, maybe there's a couple assholes out there that are just over making new work and wold rather rehash old stuff and rest on their laurels.  But they are the extreme minority.  Keeping track of word count is just another way of feeling like you're making progress on something you care about. It's about goal keeping to help generate motivation when it feels like that book is eating your life. (Even if you dearly love what you're doing.)

To put this all into perspective especially for creators who are also Witches, Pagans, etc - our art is intertwined with our sense of self, our spirituality, and our magick.  While other folks may hop on a trend, this is our lives. Our work is who we are, and no matter how fast or how much art we appear to make, the root of all of it all is sincerity, truth, personal power. None of that can be faked in word counts, notes, or images. The real deal will always make itself known. 



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Laura "Tempest" Zakroff is a professionally trained visual artist, designer, writer and a Modern Traditional Witch. Her artwork explores the realm of Myth and the Esoteric and has been featured in numerous publications and shows across the world. She is also is a world-renown belly dance performer and instructor, focusing on sacred and darkly inspired fusions that pull from the traditions of North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. She is based in Seattle, WA.


  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Wednesday, 24 January 2018

    LOVE this, Laura! So true. :) (I'm an obsessive creative who's writing/creating is a part of my spiritual path).

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