Why artists paint?

Why do great artists paint? Or great swimmers swim? Or great directors make films?

Is it money? Is it fame? Is it to be “successful”?

If money is the answer, why does Vincent Van Gogh kept on painting even though he was poor and was largely unknown throughout his entire life? Shouldn’t he just give up at some point?

If fame is the answer, why does Michael Phelps continued to participate in the Olympics, even though he already toke the record for the most first-place finishes back in 2008? Why does he risk his hard-earned fame in 2012?

If success is the answer, why does James Cameron made Avatar after both Titanic and Terminator 2? Wasn’t he already successful enough after both?

Recently, one of my *made-it* entrepreneur friend wrote this to me:

You’ve probably seen this clip from Jobs before but it bears repeating because it’s just so deep. Eventually “why” you do something will affect the “how”. Took me 15 years to figure it out.

This makes me think. The current men’s world record for 100 metres dash is 9.58 seconds. If someday, somehow, you are able to make it in 10.0 seconds, would you try for 9.9? How about after you’ve made 9.9, would you try for 9.8? … If you make it all the way down to 9.6, would you try to beat the world record?

Will you be doing it for the fame that comes with beating world record? The money that comes from sponsorships? Or is it because, somewhere within your heart, you feel that you might be able to make it, so you simply give it your all?

Do you think successful artists paint to be successful? Or do you think great artists paint simply because they want to make great paintings?

Why do developers develop applications?  Or marketers market products?  Or entrepreneurs create companies?

Why do you do what you do?

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2 Responses to Why artists paint?

  1. Sophy Khon says:

    It really is passion. A lot of people do things that will never make them famous, or rich, but they still do it. I think I can speak on behalf of artists when I say that by creating something–by accomplishing something–we feel alive. It makes us happy, and sometimes we hope it makes others happy too. It makes our inner world go ’round. It gives us something to live for–life would seem void and meaningless otherwise. For artists, developers, and entrepreneurs alike, there is never a moment when we say it’s over, because we always find something to improve on, or new ideas to explore, something to keep the inner world spinning on and on.

    • Louis Leung says:

      Totally agree.

      And usually, the great ones possess this fire of passion, and don’t really care that much for the superficial stuff.

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