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A Flaker Artist: Is That Right?
from Fiona P.

Just found your site tonight and am really impressed with it. I've had P for most of my life (got it when I was 7 and am now 24) and I’ve met only two other people who actually have it.  So it’s great to read about people in the same boat. The Don't Say This page was fascinating and I found myself reading them and ticking off the ones I’ve had said to me. I work in a chip shop and the number of times I get "Oh, that's a bad burn I hope you’ve got something for that" or just "what's that?!" in a don't-let-her-near-my-food tone goes without saying. I can nearly always cope with rudeness or misunderstanding but the sympathy is what gets me every time I mean its not like I'm dying right?

Its funny I have never actually sat down and had a serious conversation about my skin so this feels decidedly weird. Anyway I am just about to complete my degree in fine art and while I am fine with myself I have misgivings about entering the world where the aesthetic is everything. I really love my art but suddenly I am worried about selling myself and being on display to be looked on and dismissed by anybody.

Did I make the wrong choice in taking art as my career choice? I know deep down that art isn't that superficial (unless you are making a point about the superficial) but already I'm getting nervous and tense and that makes my skin worse which makes me more tense and so on. Do you know of any artists that have had P? I need some inspiration before my confidence runs away to hide behind a big bush never to be seen again for at least a year. Yours, -Fiona P.


Ed’s Response:  I was struck by your spin on P and the artist.  In my mind, being an artist with P would be more acceptable than being, say, a dentist with P.  (Just imagine the smiling flaker-dentist catching our fearful sideways glance at his inflamed hands.  “Oh, don’t mind my hands.”  He’s noticed we’re alarmed.  Even MORE alarmed, we look up just in time to see a huge flake break free at his hair line, fall, bounce off an eyelash and disappear into the carpet.  Terrified, we look back up into his smiling face.  He says, in a quiet, raspy voice:  “I always put the rubber gloves on before I go too deep.”  — Just writing it makes me shiver.)

Artists are supposed to be eccentric.  Aren’t they?  Didn’t Van Gogh chop off his ear because he hadn’t been blessed with P?

I’m sorry.  That degree of irreverence borderlines blasphemy. 

Having endured the slings and arrows of the well-intentioned throughout your career in “chips,” I’m guessing you’ll find your life as an artist is no more difficult — at least, not from the perspective of being a flaker.  As you get older.  As your self-definition as both artist and human being changes, becomes more refined and less fragile — (notice how deftly I’ve so far managed to avoid the words “matured” and “aged.”  I’m quite proud of myself) — in other words, as time passes, you will probably become aware of your P’s influence on your art.  It may be so subtle that you will never bother to point this out to anyone.  Or, it may be more pronounced.  It will be most interesting, though, to see what others make of your P and its affect on your art. 

You’re young enough that a way to beat this Flaking Thing may come along before your career is too far along.  I’m not anticipating a cure, exactly, but it seems we are getting very close to being able to shut off the precise little molecular switches in our immune system that ignite our flaking.  When that happens, P may become another one of those “things I have” that no one ever notices.  Wish for it.

Do I know of artists who have had P?  Of the fine arts type none leap to mind, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t some.  Perhaps other readers will know of some.  Drop us a line if you do.

Meanwhile, Fiona, we’d love to be kept abreast of how you get on.  Next time someone asks me, “Do you know of any fine artists who are flakers?” I will say, “Yes, I know one.”  And that will be true.  Thanks to you.  -Ed

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