For the people who regularly read the ideas I share on here, you're likely well aware that I tend to engage in a great deal of introspection.
I'm not sure if this means if I'm self-centred, or if it simply means that I've always leaned toward the personal essay style of writing when I take to the keyboard, but I was reminded the other day that while it's important to focus intently on your art and the work that matters to you, it is also important to consider how your work is affecting other people.
Which is to say, you often hear artists saying "I don't care what other people think," and there is certainly a place for that kind of thinking in making art — one could argue that you can't make excellent art without a little bit of that attitude in your system. But that being said, letting this idea take over our view of the art one makes is also problematic: shouldn't we, to a certain degree, consider how people think about and interact with our art?
Put another way, shouldn't we ask: how is or isn't my art affecting other people in a proactive way?
I know there a lot of artists out there who don't give a darn one way or another if their art affects other people in a positive or negative way, but I have alway tried to make a point of caring about that. Even if I'm going to write or produce something that has a grit or darkness to it, I always want to inject at least a glimmer of hope. Simply because I believe there is no such situation or person that is completely hopeless.
As a friend said the other day, "As long as you have breath, you have hope."
Anyway, the point is that maybe we shouldn't abandon what other people think about out art altogether. Maybe we should just think about what other people think in the right way; ask ourselves, "what is or isn't my art contributing to the world, and how can I better infuse it with the kind of stuff that changes people for the better?" I mean, try to find a place on right in between art as utility and art for art's sake. It's a hard middle to hit, for sure, but it's the right kind of middle when it comes to art.