Dave Moulton

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The makeup of an artist

Most children are born with the potential to be an artist. A child’s imagination is pure creativity, and the basic instinct within every child, is to show off. “Look mommy, look at me.” The problem is the creativity, in most cases, is educated out of the child.

A child comes to a parent with some fantastic story, and they are told, “That’s not true, you made that up.” Instead of given credit for creating something, that is possibly quite cleaver. A better response might be, “That’s a wonderful story, did you make that up all by yourself?”

A child needs to be taught the difference between fact and fantasy, but what is writing a novel other than making stuff up and writing it down. In other words, child’s play.

I was fortunate that I had a mother who encouraged me to be creative, to draw and paint, and make little craft projects. She gave me praise for what I had created, and more important she told others about my creations, and even showed them off. She built my self-esteem.

If you look up the word “ego” in the dictionary, it refers to self esteem. Contrary to an “egotist” which refers to a self-centered person. As I see it, an artist can have an ego, and not necessarily be egotistical. However, we are often taught throughout our life that it is wrong to have an ego.

Children are taught that it is wrong to “show off.” Showing off is only wrong, when you have nothing worthwhile to show. The loud mouth in the bar is saying, “Look at me,” but when we look, there is no talent, nothing to see.

Most artists have an ego, the desire to “show off.” Without it, there would be no art. No TV or movies made,no books to read, and no music on the radio. Why would any actor get up on a stage or in front of an audience or camera, if they did not have the ego to say, “Look at me, and look at what I can do?”

It is not wrong to have an ego, but it may be a huge mistake to parade that ego in front of others. Get more than one of these persons in a room at the same time and you have a clash of egos.

Knowing that you have a talent for something is to have an ego, in other words, confidence in oneself, or self-esteem. However, ego needs to be toned down with a little humility. If a person truly has talent, it will be imminently plain for all to see. There is no need for further embellishment. 

Initially an artist creates for their own satisfaction of seeing what they have created. I always got a tremendous rush from looking at my finished bicycle frames. For some this is enough, but for most, we need the validation of others. This usually comes in the form of people putting down their hard-earned money for what you have created.

The driving force behind most artists is not money. Those who become artists to make a lot of money rarely make any, and often are not good artists. Some do make a lot of money, movie stars for example. The money is really a validation of their work, a large number of people appreciate what they do.

All true artists are successful, there are only varying degrees of success. The simple act of creating something is a success in and of itself, even if it only benefits its creator. Who would even attempt to write a book if they didn’t think in the first place that someone would read what they had written? If no one tried in the first place for fear of failure, there would be no books.

No creative work is a complete failure, sometimes it is necessary to create one piece of work, simply to enable the artist to get it out of their system, and move on to the next project.

Failure paves the way for success in the future. Success cannot always be measured in terms of money. Every time a frame I built is sold on eBay, there is no monetary reward for me. Just the satisfaction of knowing I created something worthwhile, and it stilll has value.

The line between ego and egotistical can be extremely thin. How do I write about myself and not appear egotistical? I tell myself it is okay as long as I have something worthwhile to say.

I was blessed in this life to have been given the ability and the opportunity to build a few decent bicycle frames. Along the way, I gathered a great deal of knowledge about the bicycle and its design. Most of this knowledge is in my head and when I am gone, it too will be gone. That would be a shame and a waste.

Writing satisfies my creative passion, just as building bicycle frames did in the past. My purpose is to share knowledge, enlighten, and attempt to entertain. Statistics show that readership remains steady. As long as there are people willing to take the time to read my occasional scribbles, I will continue. This is my validation.


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Reader Comments (4)

I always enjoy your blog Dave, even though I'm not cycling much any more.

October 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterStephen McAteer

I have always had a keen eye for visual aesthetics, and I love mechanical work - a skill I learned while assembling my first real bike asa teenager. Some decades ago I found a way to merge my love for precision hand work, visual beauty, and music: the design and building of musical instruments.

And it is true: things that others see just as utilitarian goods can be made into a work of art.

October 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlexander López

Most of this knowledge is in my head and when I am gone, it too will be gone. That would be a shame and a waste.

Too true; so thanks for getting as much of it as possible out to the world via this blog!

October 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

As a nipper in Brum England, I was always drawing and painting, At age 11 I went to Moseley school of art and then to work as an apprentice for William Bloye the sculptor. When out riding my bike I had a sketch pad in my saddle bag and did many, that I still have, drawing and paintings of the countryside. There are several statues in Brum that I worked on with Mr Bloye, including the famous, now called the "Three Golden boys" "Boulton Murdoch and Watt " Also been a musician I loved to create that way also. BUT As many have found, you have to decide at some point what is the most important thing to you. Dave, you found that you could continue, by creating works of art in the form of bike frames and forks, this is shown in your work. that will live on forever. I often wonder if I had continued in the Art world, would I have been happy and content with that?. I am, never the less very happy and content with my life as it has turned out Maybe my relatives will get some enjoyment, out of looking at my carvings and my drawings and paintings

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony J Crump

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