The test of a true artist is when they inspire others to join the art world. I’m not talking about the gut reaction that screams, “They got paid for that?! Hell, I could piss on a canvas and make a better painting!” There have been so many artists that have inspired that reaction in me in many different fields of art. Joan Miro’s scribbles and misshapen figures inspire me to pick up a brush. Sigue Sigue Sputnik inspired me to pick up the microphone and pen the words for our synth songs in the Eighties. Even Doctor Who inspired me to create better science fiction. This is not the inspiration that I’m talking about.
The test of a true artist is when they inspire others to join the art world. They are so moving that you can’t stop yourself from joining in. You want a moment approaching their greatness for yourself. The Blue Man Group inspires me to pick up a pair of drumsticks and pound on whatever is nearby. Billie Holiday inspires me to belt out the blues no matter what condition my singing voice is. Lois McMaster Bujold inspires me to write complicated science fiction about interesting characters and true heroes. Salvador Dali inspires me to paint images that are as disturbing as they are beautiful. Stomp inspired me to dance noisily with trash can lids. Despite all the hype around their lives, they inspire people for generations. That is the test of a true artist.
I used to think that musicians could only inspire musicians. Script writers could only inspire script writers. Sci-Fi writers could only inspire other sci-fi writers, but I’ve very quickly come to the conclusion that this assumption is wrong. I’ve been inspired to write prose by music, but I consider myself a musician inspired by another musician to write. I’ve been inspired by movies to write. I’ve been inspired by movies to write music. I’ve been inspired by music to dance. All of the arts are all mixed up for me and I have a hard time saying that I’m a writer because I’m so many other things too.
Last week, I was searching the Internet for something when I came across a random site. All it said was that Suzanne Vega was inspired by the films of Marlene Dietrich. I didn’t even click over to the site because it wasn’t what I was looking for at the time, but I logged that fact in my mind. “Oh yeah, Marlene on the Wall. Oh yeah, Freeze Tag. I will be Dietrich and you can be Dean. Nevermind that the two were never in a movie together.” Somehow that actress, that heroine, inspired Suzanne Vega to write music. Apparently, I’m not the only one who can crossover.
A big Thank You to all the various artists that have inspired me to write lately (Queen of Wands, The Postal Service, Something Positive, The Blue Man Group). You have passed The True Artist Test.