About Art Block

This is also as response to Baylee Jae’s ART BLOCK DOESN’T EXIST -video.

The problematic thing about the statement “art block doesn’t exist” is that we have such a vague understanding of what art block actually is. I’m not saying I’m the definite authority when it comes to art block, nor that my definition necessarily is the best there is. I am open for feedback and suggestions in that sense. However, I hope to provide as much reason as I possibly can so that you will agree with me. If you don’t need convincing and feel I’m stating the obvious, I’m sorry if I sound patronising. This “rant” of mine perhaps isn’t aimed at you (but I appreciate your time reading it though).

Most of us are probably familiar with writer’s block, and I think it’s reasonable to assume that’s where the “block” was borrowed from. A quick google check tells me that many dictionaries define writer’s block as “the inability to produce writing/written work” with few additions on how it’s perhaps temporary, long-lasting and/or a mental condition. This would make art (or artist’s block, or any creative block) similarly “the inability to produce art/creative work”. The definitions mention “mental reasons”, but I’ve yet to discover where they define those reasons as exclusively trivial, this to me suggests they can be anything between “I just don’t feel like it” and an actual illness. When we realise that even the most trivial reason is actually affected by the person’s current condition and their surroundings, the mental becomes a result of an array of physical reasons. Nothing is really “just in your head”, it’s in your head for a reason. Now, some of these conditions aren’t reason enough to use as an excuse, if you will, to not make art. They’re the sort where you can be snapped out of your art block with a little coaxing and encouragement. But it would be foolish to assume that just because these reasons may seem trivial, that they necessarily are. Many people struggle with an art block they cannot break free from. It may be one where coaxing them with “tough love” is the exact thing that makes that block worse. This makes unsolicited, uninformed art block advice quite a thoughtless (and ethically questionable) thing to give.

Then there’s the art industry. Many believe the art industry requires you to toughen up and work very very hard to succeed. I’m not wholly disagreeing. I just feel like this is a very cold and over-simplified view of things. For one, yes, you need to work hard. But working hard doesn’t guarantee success. A lot of people work hard and suffer for what they want, but never get it. That doesn’t make them less motivated or less professional if they once in a while express, even whine about how hard it is. Whining about something doesn’t necessarily mean the person isn’t also trying their utmost best. Surely we can muster some compassion for humanity, even if it’s the art industry, even if it’s their profession they are struggling with…?

It also seems to me that people who make it up there and succeed, attribute it to their hard work. They may express how they feel lucky and grateful, but they perhaps don’t fully understand just how lucky they are. They’ve been lucky to have had the resources (mental, physical strength, encouragement, help etc. – though not necessarily all or simultaneously, but nevertheless enough to overcome even very arduous obstacles) to work hard, perhaps they’ve had just the right timing, they’ve had connections, they’ve had the smarts. Not all people are born with all of that, have those resources around them or that kind of luck. We are not starting from the same starting line. We ought to stop comparing ourselves to other people so unreservedly. There should always be that consideration for differing circumstances, and an understanding that we simply cannot fully know what it’s like for another person.

So what does this mean? Where does it leave us? I feel that it’s pointless to assume other people just aren’t doing enough or aren’t passionate enough, and get annoyed if they sometimes whine because they feel it’s hard. I know it’s frustrating, because you may feel like they are just lazy and don’t realise they should be working harder. But generalised statements like “art block doesn’t exist” or “you can’t use it as an excuse” can hit a nerve for those, who have an obstacle and who are already doing their best with what they have to overcome it. What to do instead? If you don’t want to be seen as a complete jerk, stop being so assumptious and judgmental. If you want to help, try to figure out what you can do to help. Ask. Make sure your advice is solicited and directed at the right person, at the right problem. There are things we cannot influence and things we can, find out the latter and tackle those. Success is about luck and probability, we can increase the chances by improving the odds.

Yes, you can give tough love to those who need it and find it motivational. I think it’s great you’re trying to help. Just make sure you’re not squashing someone else while you’re doing it.


Comment Section Drama

So, I’m still talking about Baylee Jae’s art block video. This is my take on what’s happening in the comment section.

  • Some people were upset
  • Other people don’t see why Some people got upset, so they accuse Some people of getting upset over nothing.
  • Reason for upset still exists though Other people don’t see it. Some people try to tell Other people this. Other people confuse reason with another different reason, y.
  • Other people also get upset because Some people are upset at both Baylee and them.
  • Baylee does nothing to diffuse the situation, so Some people get even more upset.
  • Other people get even more upset because clearly Some people are overreacting again. The world is a harsh place, you should just deal, get over it already. Other people still don’t see what the fuss is about. They accuse Some people of just not understanding reality, when they themselves misunderstand what Some people are upset about.
  • Baylee changes description.
  • Some people are still dissatisfied (not all of the previous Some, but some nontheless), they point out it’s not enough. This sentiment gets lost in the comments.
  • Some people would like an apology.
  • Other people and Baylee probably misundestand what the apology is about and refuse, because they feel they did nothing wrong by just expressing their opinion.
  • Some people were not upset about the opinion thing. They were not upset about the subject matter either. They had other reasons to be upset about.
  • Misunderstanding continues.
  • New people come in. They haven’t seen the old description, so they definitely think Some people are overreacting. Sheesh, get over it, this video is CLEARLY about thing x, it says so in the description!
  • Everyone finds the multitude of comments overwhelming and overreact.
  • Some people are still upset that their hurt hasn’t been validated at any point. Baylee or Other people seem very unempathetic, so Some people point this out. They say Baylee is being rude.
  • Other people tell Some people they are being rude at Baylee because they are telling Baylee she is rude. They still don’t see what the fuss is about.
  • There’s a shit load of comments, so maybe it’s no suprise Some people’s thoughts aren’t being heard and Other people don’t receive enough information to understand what the fuss is about. They assume it’s reason z. Z is still not the reason.
  • No one actually reads the comments. Too bad (s)he is the only one. Everyone else just leaves their own comments.
  • Everyone else are also pretty opinionated and have their own assumptions about Some people, so many of them don’t really even care to read what Some people have to say. They’ve already made up their mind.
  • Some threads have some weirdo called Napuke commenting these long-ass comments that no one’s got time to read. For some reason they still keep coming, what the hell.
  • Napuke is desperately trying to make Other people see what Some people are trying to say. Not all people, just Some people. She knows it’s futile, but she hopes at least Someone is watching. Maybe that Someone will recognise the situation the next time. Maybe Someone will validate Some people’s feelings at some point, maybe Someone will help Baylee realise and understand what she’s not seeing. Maybe Someone will have the right words, right timing, to make it at least a little better…

About Baylee Jae’s art block video

I’ll try to make this concise, I know I have a huge tendency to ramble…

First, let me list what’s “wrong” with your video. This is what I’ve picked up from the comments and also to some extent how I feel myself. I’m not speaking for everyone, but I’m also not just speaking for myself.

  • Subject line: ART BLOCK DOESN’T EXIST – This statement is too brief and as it is, invalid. Art block is a thing for a lot of people, it exists (at the very least) as a concept. Denying it exists (without the context that you are talking about your personal subjective view where it mind as well not exist because you can’t use it as a reason or an excuse) is hurtful to those who suffer because of it. You are denying their suffering. It’s important you give a context. Don’t prioritise a clickbait subject line over people’s feelings. They will resent you for it.
  • Description: It was bare before. It was made better, but it still doesn’t say it was edited. A lot of people come to the video now thinking they’re seeing what people saw when they first came. It’s making the issue worse.
  • Vague purpose of the video: Is it an educational video? Because it sure as hell sounds like it, even though it now says “rant style” and in the comments you say it’s “just a fun rant”. Even if it’s just a rant, the purpose of a rant is to get something off your chest. You are thus prioritising your own need to vent over your viewers’ feelings. Viewers (at least the ones who are affected by it) do not appreciate this, especially because they feel they are giving you your livelihood by watching. It’s reads as you being unappreciative of your viewers. I’m not saying you necessarily are, but that’s how it comes across. That’s why people are angry.
  • Vague/bad choice of audience: You used an offensive trigger warning -meme as a joke. It may have been an attempt to make the video seem more jokey and light-hearted, but it was not well-received by the people in your audience that have to deal with actual mental issues where trigger warnings are necessary. I don’t know, maybe your heart was in the right place, but it was just not a very good execution of what you tried to do. If you want to make jokes that are offensive, especially if they are so clearly offensive as this, please make sure you have the right audience for it (maybe friends, family, smaller groups of people you know). Otherwise, again, it will seem like you don’t care.
  • Delayed/poor/vague response to negative feedback: It’s riling up people even more when you are not acknowledging that you (even if unintentionally) hurt them. That’s where apologies come handy. You should err on the safe side, apologise for hurting people, let them know you didn’t mean to, explain what you meant to do. Don’t just shove it under the rug, tell people they are being too sensitive and make a (frankly pretty half-assed) disclaimer to exclude the sore subject matter from the conversation. When people are trying to tell you something, try to undestand where they’re coming from, actively let them know you hear them and the parts where you agree. They won’t know unless you say it to them. Especially if we don’t know each other well enough. Don’t assume they’ll just know how you feel. You need to say it.
  • Condescending rude tone: This is one of the ones I see in the comments the most. it’s probably because it’s more of an instinctive response. I think it stems from you not being specific enough about who the video is aimed at. You should have at least added something like “if you feel like this is applicable to you, if you recognize yourself from this, then this is a wake up call for you”, something along those lines. I personally thought you sounded very different from your usual videos and I couldn’t understand why. I admit it was off-putting. Here is a 20-something girl, talking to me, a 30-something from across the world, calling me honey and giving a lecture on using excuses to not work hard enough. I know it wasn’t intended for me personally, but that’s just because I took a step back and went “this is so off, it can’t be for me”, not because you made sure I understood who it was for. Maybe you assumed everyone would immediately come to this conclusion because it’s YouTube and that’s supposedly how YouTube is. You failed to factor in the few moments of discomfort before the realisation, where I had a bit of an instinctive inner turmoil about “who the hell is this chick giving me this advice as if I don’t already know?!” before I could factor in you were not referring to me, or anyone like me. Even when I realised it, I felt uncertain about whether or not my conclusion was right. That could’ve been avoided, had you said something to begin with. It just felt so unnecessary. I’m also unsure who that tone is going to benefit anyway, save a few people who are used to it, don’t notice it or like verbal abuse. It seems more trouble than it’s worth.

That’s it for dissecting the video. I think I’ll make separate posts for what I think of art block and whatever the hell it was that happened in the comment section