When people picture a workaholic, most imagine someone sitting in an office or desk for twelve hours straight, not an artist working on perfecting the hat on their latest painting. Artists are often depicted as struggling due to the difficulty in making money from their work, but often people forget about the human side. The internal struggle of the artists between their work and their relationships. Artists from all the different forms struggle because their passion for their work interferes with their personal lives. Few, if any are able to genuinely find a balance between their personal lives and their work.
The majority of artists, especially those that are extremely gifted, cannot find a balance because their passion for their work outweighs any love or passion they could find in a personal relationship, and thus pick their work over them. Having time for nothing except his work defined Georges Pierre Seurat. While he might have had lovers and acquaintances from the art world, few people genuinely knew him, and often people were baffled by him and his passion. An anonymous observer in 1890 wrote, ‘He works … like a laborer from 9 o’clock in the morning until 7 o’clock at night.” For ten hours straight he would work on his projects. When he worked on one of his most famous paintings, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, he sketched the park in all its glory during the day and then used what would eventually become Pointillism to create his masterpiece during the night.
Stephen Sondheim, creator of ‘Sunday in the park with George” stated, “If George was in the park on Sunday, he was also there on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, eavesdropping, looking, sketching…then, always, back to the studio, working deep into the night.” He had a mistress and a son, neither of which he paid much attention to, and he only brought them to light right before his death due to diphtheria. Even his closest colleagues were unaware of his child and mistress until his death. Seurat kept mostly to himself and focused on his work. Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart, on the other hand, was a lively, outgoing fellow who was generally liked by all. He was flirtatious and conceited, and to this day is considered one of the best composers to have ever lived. He was a child protege who composed and played for a living. His family was not particularly rich, so he did his best to appear wealthy, and often spent money as quickly as he could.
After his mother’s death, Mozart left Salzburg for Vienna and married Constance, where he spent the rest of his life. Knowing he did not quite fit in, Mozart was paranoid that the people around him were out to sabotage him, particularly, Antonio Salieri, the Imperial Kapellmeister of Vienna. Mozart considered himself more talented than those he worked with and felt that their jealousy would drive them to hurt him. He was a family man, but only in name. He spent so much time working, that his wife and he fought because he was overworking himself, and did not seem to care about her or their children. When he passed away at the age of thirty-five, she threw out most of his work. Unlike the other two, Takashi Murakami is still alive and blessing the world with his creative mind. A man inspired by his circumstance and upbringing learned to play the game while still young.
After coming up with ‘A Theory of Superflat Japanese Art,” he has tried his hand in fashion, music, and video with Kanye West, and his art is displayed in museums around the world. He found a way to make a living as an artist while still alive because he realized what the people want and he gives it to them with his own twist. Its all a commentary on the shallowness of humanity and the era in which he grew up. It is something people do not stop and think about due to the shock factor of some of his other works. He’s rich and famous, but he has no partner. He focuses on his art and on fostering new artist, and for now seems to have abandoned being in a relationship other than mentor-student. Relationships might just not even be a thought when you’re someone such as Mr. Swang Lin. Since the age of six, Mr. Lin has been playing the violin. He has toured around the world and has performed in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall. At his concerts, you can see the passion when he plays, and the years of practice and mastering the violin. Having more than earned his position as Associate Concertmaster of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, but he too has been in the industry and studying since he was a child, as was the case with Mozart and Murakami.
Similar to them, relationships are not his strong suit, and he too has chosen his passion over love. There are always exceptions of course. Known as the Master of Suspense, his biggest hit, Psyco, marked Alfred Hitchcock’s name for the rest of history as the man who revolutionized horror movies. He made fifty-three films, but none were as successful as psycho. Hitchcock found a way to balance his personal life with his wife and daughter and his passion for his work, but because he married someone with the same passion as he in the same business as him. He was married to Alma Reville Hitchcock, his life companion and partner in the film industry. He did not need to explain to her the endless work nights or focus on his projects, because she was there with him. Her opinion mattered more than any critic according to Patrick McGilligan, who knew and wrote Alfred Hitchcock’s biography, “He feared her opinion because he respected it. If she said, “I don’t like it,” that was the worst thing he could hear.” His wife was someone he admired deeply, and he respected her work and skill.
Dr. Hyeyoung Song is another exception. Happily married and a mother of two, she has found a balance between her passion and personal life. Song has been playing since she was eight years old and says ‘I still remember the first lesson so vividly, it was a magical moment. I believe every person has their own unique talent and can have that magic moment that will change your life. I was lucky that happened to me.” She found her calling at a young age, and to this day has followed it. Her supportive husband and kids go to her concerts and watch their skilled mother bring warmth to her listeners. Her ability to enchant her audience, whether it be in the TCC auditorium or Carnage Hall, is unmatched. Many artists find balancing their personal lives and passions difficult. There are few people out there who can understand the passion they have for their respective fields, and being able to find one that is willing to be second to their work is nearly impossible. Overall, their ability to share the gift they have been given and the passion they have triumphs over everything because, in the end, they tend to pick their passions over love.