Hurry Up Vincent! I want to work in My studio today.
There are days when I am in my studio and I'm alone, or I feel alone, and the work may not be progressing as I would like and I wonder what the heck I'm doing! This is really kind of funny because there isn't anything else I'd rather be doing but still the question does pop into my head.
Despite that thought, I've always known that I was lucky to have discovered my passion and I've known for a very long time that I was fortunate to have this passion and the ability to pursue the same. As I looked ahead in time I knew that my work would be something I could continue after my Paid Job was done and things have worked out just as I imagined.
Some time ago I read a blog article on the topic of what it ment to be a professional artist. There were a huge number of comments on the article and a range of thoughts on the topic. The most interesting point for me was that many people wanted to define a professional artist as someone whose primary goal was to sell the work. All I could think was, "If you make the work, put the work out for sale and it doesn't sell, does someone come and take your artist license away?" I decided right then and there that I didn't like the word "professional" attached to the word artist. Made me feel like I needed to put on a suit and tie and grab my briefcase.
I think I prefer the word dedicated in front of my title of artist. I work in my studio most days. I enter exhibitions. I have shows. I do have work in a gallery. I read about art and study. etc. While selling work is great, I decline to alter my work to suit the desires of others. I did that as a designer and it's a totally different way to work. Been there, done that.
Here are some great things about being a dedicated artist.
You never have to retire from art. You may need to work in another medium at some point. I bet Henry Moore had assistants. You may need to work on a smaller scale. I love working large but there may come a day I don't want to be standing on a ladder in front of my design wall. The good news is if you can hold a pencil you can still express yourself through the making of art. I was going to mention if you still have good vision but I know of two artists who are legally blind and there work if fabulous. I also know one artists who has extreme color blindness but is know as a colorist. This artists has learned a value system which allows them to create sophisticated color relationships. The point is you make adjustments so you can continue.
Your friends and acquaintances will always admire your accomplishments and give you a kind of recognition that can be hard to come by in the work-a-day world. If you make anything you have had people say to you, "I wish I could do that. (paint, sew, print etc.)" Likely these folks could do these things but our culture is focused on comparing ourselves to others and often people are fearful about trying something new and not being "the best".
Your local art supply dealer, hardware store, fabric store etc. will break into a big smile when they see you coming. Yes! Artists and art are good for the economy. I'd rather have some new art supplies than a new dress anyday. (Actually I don't wear dresses. Haven't owned one for years. Comfort is big on my agenda and if you are an artist people allow you to wear jeans almost anywhere.)
Your local museum, gallery or community art center will (or should) be thrilled to meet you. YOU are the person who makes all the art that fills the walls and pedestals with items which attracts visitors, customers and new members. YOU are the person who is asked to donate work for the auction which raises money for the kids art camp, new display furniture, etc. YOU create work which must be professionally matted and framed. YOU make the lovely gift items which are given and long remembered. You might find yourself a very popular person!
Your area schools and community organizations will also be interested in what you are doing. Artists are often called upon to work with children for a special program or give a lecture to groups of all kinds. I've done lots of this. It hasn't made me famous but I feel I have made a contribution to my community and my state.
Being and artist also gives you a bit of cache whether you refer to yourself as professional or not. The very mention of your interest and skills can be an engaging topic when meeting new people. I don't think I've ever had anyone who wasn't at least a little interested in what I do.
You aren't getting older, you're getting better. A dancer may be the best in the world but at some point they must become the teacher. An athlete may be highly skilled but those skills will be dimenished over time. While you can certainly find examples of artists who peek early and fade, the more common story is the artists who works a lifetime and blooms as they mature. Let's hear it for old blooms!
I suppose what I'm telling you is how lucky we are to have a passion that we can pursue all our lives and pursue with intense dedication and not be overly concerned about the idea of "being a professional". Even if you live in a tiny apartment you can have a tabletop studio. You don't need anyone's permission to make something. You can stack your art to the ceiling if you like or sell your work so you can buy more supplies.
Art professors are famous for telling their students to "go drive a cab" and make your art in your off time. So, if you are still working a day job you can make art at night. It's hard but plenty of artists do just that. If you have given-up the day-job, WOO Nellie....get out of my way I'm headed to the studio!
I'm sure I could make a longer list and perhaps you'd like to add something to the list yourself.
Have fun today in your studio. Discover something new. Make something exciting. Make something ugly. (ugly is good....it challenges you) We are the lucky ones!
** Painting by Vincent Van Gogh titled Madame Roulin Ricking the Cradle.
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