Understanding the grumpy artist
I'm not a grumpy artist. I've always been happy when people want to see my work, especially my cartoons. I started doing it in school for friends and if they liked them, they got to see a LOT more. I'm the "puppy dog" of artists. And it's worked well for me in my professional career, as people like to work with me, and recommend me. However, it's not the only way to go for success as an artist - you can also be grumpy.
There have been a lot of grumpy successful artists. A classic example that springs to mind is the great poet Charles Bukowski. If you haven't read his stuff, or better still, listened to him recite, you really should. He is wonderfully grumpy.
Whether he was genuinely grumpy, or it was "all an act" of course no one will ever know. What's inside of someone is something that only they can know, and I know that I'm not grumpy. Like I said, if someone likes my work, I jump around like a happy puppy. But grumpy artists can't do that. It has to do with a type of integrity that a lot of people like.
If you plan on being a grumpy artist, you have to do everything in a begrudging way, as if you're doing it because you have no other choice. In the art world, people love this kind of stuff. They can be made to feel as if the artist was doing them a favor to sell them something. A true grumpy artist will of course never promote, never advertise, never even give an inkling that they're interested in selling their work. And when they do sell their work, or show up somewhere to read their poetry, they do it as if it were the last thing they wanted to do.
It has been my privilege to know many grumpy artists. Their motto is "take it or leave it!" and their artistic integrity is amazing. If someone were to ask me, for example, to change the color of a cartoon dog from blue to red I wouldn't mind at all. But I've know grumpy artists for whom that would be the end of the world, and they storm away.
I hope this helps you to understand grumpy artists. They can be an acquired taste, but they can be wonderful. I suggest that you give them a try, and decide for yourself.
Posted by Brad Hall