Monday, March 06, 2006

On being an artist...

J.T. got me thinking with his post, and the ensuing commentary regarding Motivation vs. Inspiration, and of course my class keeps re-enforcing thoughts which I already hold to be true. But given all of this - what does it mean to be an artist?

I feel somewhat blessed to have come to my art when I did, although there are many who identify their path earlier than I, there are many who don't commit or devote to it until later in life. Basically I realized my own need and desire to create at the level of I guess 'professional' about a year out of undergrad (studied architecture, so there was creativity, but I had not fully embraced the visual arts). I decided at that time that I would devote myself to it fully. That meant going to grad school (at great expense) and a continuing commitment by devoting evenings and weekends to working away in my various studio set ups. (Whether it was a live work, or a closet sized separate studio, or sometimes just a patio or rooftop). Besides the financial and time commitments there is also the question of emotional and mental commitment.

As an artist (unless you are extremely talented AND lucky) you get an awful lot of rejections, and even when you get an opportunity to show there will be vocalized criticisms, although frequently mixed with heartfelt praise. Putting lots of effort thought and pure sweat into something, and sacrificing other things in life and then putting it out to the public, only to receive repeated rejections can be a Sisyphean existence. So there has to be an awful lot of ego, and belief in one's self to keep going.

There are a lot of people that I went to grad school with who don't do their artwork any more. But there are just as many who are still working and showing. Like me they have all had their ups and downs. But, speaking for myself (and I would imagine others) there is something within me that truly believes that the work I am creating is interesting and will speak to people (probably not everyone, but to those whom it does...). I also believe that when I get rejected, its not my work or me being rejected, but just not a harmony between my work and the curator, jury or theme.

I have certainly had some pretty down moments - getting three rejections in one day - but there are ups as well. I just keep making work - because I can't honestly imagine a day without it - its kind of like breathing, it is who I am. And I keep on believing that it is truly worth showing and that there is an audience for the work.

So this is a little off my rants of late (don't worry there's one in the pipeline), but I thought I would put some thoughts out there, and would love to hear from other artists what keeps you going and how do you picture yourself?

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