I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan, I’ve read quite a few of his books and I read his blog from time to time. I first heard about Amanda Palmer through Neil’s blog, a few years ago, where he was writing about their wedding. Then, again, on one of his Facebook updates only this time he mentioned her TED Talk – The Art of Asking. I watched the video and was hooked. I needed to know more about Amanda and her story. I immediately took to social media to check out her profiles on Facebook, Instagram and her website.
I found out that she was the lead singer in the “Dresden Dolls” and, after that, in “Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra”. Amanda also used to be a living statue, collecting money in a hat while dressed as an eight-foot bride. I listened to a few of her songs online and decided that I liked them.
In December 2014, scrolling through my Facebook feed I noticed that Amanda had written a book called “The Art of Asking – Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help”. I was intrigued and set out to buy the book.
It’s one of my favourite books. It’s a heart-warming memoir based on Amanda’s TED talk; her raw interactions with her fans and connecting with people, seeing people.
Artists, who are offering the world something beautiful, should be able to ask for remuneration or help in any shape or form. Asking makes you vulnerable; this excerpt from Amanda’s book gives you a different perspective:
“Asking for help with shame says: You have the power over me. Asking with condescension says: I have the power over you. But asking for help with gratitude says: We have the power to help each other.”
Another excerpt (below) from her book explains the inspiration behind my painting – “I took the fucking Donuts!”
“Thoreau wrote in painstaking detail about how he chose to remove himself from society to live “by his own means” in a little 10-foot x 15-foot hand-hewn cabin on the side of a pond. What he left out of Walden, though, was the fact that the land he built on was borrowed from his wealthy neighbor, that his pal Ralph Waldo Emerson had him over for dinner all the time, and that every Sunday, Thoreau’s mother and sister brought over a basket of freshly-baked goods for him, including donuts.
The idea of Thoreau gazing thoughtfully over the expanse of transcendental Walden Pond, a bluebird alighting onto his threadbare shoe, all the while eating donuts that his mom brought him just doesn’t jibe with most people’s picture of him of a self-reliant, noble, marrow-sucking back-to-the-woods folk-hero.
Taking the donuts is hard for a lot of people.
It’s not the act of taking that’s so difficult, it’s more the fear of what other people are going to think when they see us slaving away at our manuscript about the pure transcendence of nature and the importance of self-reliance and simplicity. While munching on someone else’s donut.
Maybe it comes back to that same old issue: we just can’t see what we do as important enough to merit the help, the love.
Try to picture getting angry at Einstein devouring a donut brought to him by his assistant, while he sat slaving on the theory of relativity. Try to picture getting angry at Florence Nightingale for snacking on a donut while taking a break from tirelessly helping the sick.
To the artists, creators, scientists, non-profit-runners, librarians, strange-thinkers, start-uppers and inventors, to all people everywhere who are afraid to accept the help, in whatever form it’s appearing,
Please, take the donuts.
To the guy in my opening band who was too ashamed to go out into the crowd and accept money for his band,
Take the donuts.
To the girl who spent her twenties as a street performer and stripper living on less than $700 a month who went on to marry a best-selling author who she loves, unquestioningly, but even that massive love can’t break her unwillingness to accept his financial help, please….
Just take the fucking donuts.”
And so, I enlisted the help of my friend and art teacher, Angie. I got all spruced up in a Moulin-Rouge type outfit, painted my face like a mime and stuffed some donuts in my face while Angie clicked away at the camera. I chose a the best picture of the lot and painted it.
This piece was entered into the Art Lover’s competition in February 2015, which didn’t place anywhere, but it’s a piece I’m extremely proud of.