Saturday, October 11, 2008

Art Blog: The ANOINTED Part 5

When I was seventeen years old, I started my first semester in art school. I started off my “art life” wanting to be an illustrator (I thought). I can remember sitting in one of my classes and the professor was giving back our assignments. He handed me my drawing and I noticed a long note on the back written in red marker. Also, there were arrows and circles all over the face of the drawing. I could feel the heat in my face rise. I read the block of text. It was a negative verbal critique. The one thing I remember about the note is he started almost every sentence with “The client would want…..” Mortified, I sat there and nearly started crying. Of course, I was upset because he trashed my work with his words, but also I was livid he had ruined my drawing with his frigin red marker! With my jaw jutting out and eyes of hot coals, I looked at him and thought “Client? Client? SCREW THIS!!”
Obviously, that was many years ago. Yet, my mindset hasn’t really changed after all these years. I wanted to make art for me back then and now. This is a very heroic aspiration, but not very wise if you want to be successful by societal standards. Being a successful artist requires many, many attributes. Being creative or having art skills is just one component of the successful artist recipe.

This is the point of this post. Being a successful artist is up for personal interpretation. I truly believe I am very successful by my own standards. Twenty years ago, I can remember living in a ghetto apartment with cockroaches and mice. After trying to use the ATM and being told I had “insufficient funds” for any type of withdrawal, I would actually go house to house asking the residents if they had a used can of latex paint in their garage and if so, could I have it. I would sit dreaming of the day, I could have a nice place to live, have enough money in the bank to buy any kind of paint I wanted, and make the kind of art that makes me happy. I have all that now. So I think I am very successful. However, I am not successful if I am measured by the market value of my work or celebrated artist fame markers.

I do not blame anyone for my lack of “art market” success. I believe if you point your finger at others, you have to notice that three of your fingers are pointed back at you! I have to take full responsibility for the status of my art career. My own actions have created much of the status quo. I never gathered many of the ingredients of the successful artist recipe. Oh, I am very creative and skilled, but that isn’t enough. Like I mentioned before, being a successful artist is an aggregate of many traits and attributes. I don’t have many of them or if I do, I have never honed those skills.
For example:

Realism: I have never wanted to go with the flow. Embracing the reality of art marketing has never been my thing. I am too idealistic. I have never cared what the client wants. I don’t care what sells. I have never listened or taken advice from the gallerists. I don’t care about the trends.

Enthusiasm and Drive: Oh, I have been enthusiastic and driven by my own art. However, I have not been enthusiastic about marketing or selling or getting myself out there. I have shown my work in many exhibitions, but I never spent the time or energy required to get into that fantastic gallery. It wasn’t that important to me. I guess I don’t want it enough.

Consistency: This is a huge error on my part. I have to admit I am so flawed in this area. My art work habits and tendency to jump from one style/genre to another appears flighty and undecided. However, this goes back to my desire to do what I want. This attitude does not help an art career. My bad.

Sociability: This is one trait that is nearly nonexistent in my bag of art tricks. I have more fingers than times I use the telephone in a year. I shut myself in and don’t talk to anyone. I hate going to openings because “small talk” bores me to tears. I don’t collect art patrons with a smile. I have never been able to do this and it is to my detriment.

Smooze factor: Likewise, I don’t know how to smooze. For the past few months, I have realized how I let opportunities slip through my fingers. I have been in situations that were the perfect set up to sell my art or “talk the talk” to make contacts. I didn’t. I let it go. I just didn’t have it in me.

So I guess this is my true confession. If I am not successful by art world standards the fault lies within me in many ways. I am sure there are many other ingredients for art success. Can you think of more? If so, leave me a comment and tell me what you think.

OMG! Norman Rockwell? I remember when I was in high school, I wanted to be him!
Obviously, I changed my mind! LOL LOL
There will be one more post in this series.
I want to address all the comments left about this topic.
P.S. Thanks for READING!


Anonymous said...

I just love reading your column you are a very good artist in my book and I know nothing about art !! Just wanted you to know your a pretty cool person !!

Hans in Bradenton

JafaBrit's Art said...

hum, you have that jafa spirit, do what you want :) I like your attitude. What I will say about consistency is that while it seems I jump from one genre to another there is actually consistency in the sense that all of my work represents facets of how I feel and about life and have ONE voice, mine.
Is that not the same for you?

JafaBrit's Art said...

oh I didn't answer the ingredients for art success.

luck, being in the right place at the right time, your style of work becomes popular, you kiss ass, you sell your soul to the devil, you create shocking shite and get noticed, you spend 90% of you time wearing a sales hat, you have the gift of the gab and could sell the Brooklyn bridge if needed, you create what the public wants.

self taught artist said...

If I had your grit and determination when I was 17 (i did but it was misdirected)I would feel blessed. I love the part about your teacher and the whole client thing. what an idiot that professor was. thats to me the scariest thing about any schooling, when teachers or professors derail another human being by their closed mindedness and stay in the box teachings. lucky for you you didn't allow yourself to be deterred. THATS SUCCESSFULL in my book.

Sheree Rensel said...

This is just one of the things in my life for which I am so, so thankful. I knew I wanted to be an artist before I started kindergarten. Really. I had an uncle who was an artist. Unfortunately, he ended up getting married and the art took a back seat to family responsibilities. However, I guess I have it in my genes. Therefore, I was on the art track all through school and knew I was going to make art my life from very early on. I am grateful for this.
Sometimes I am shocked now that I have continued despite all the ups and downs. However, I guess it is in my blood. There has been nothing yet that stopped me. The key word here is YET. Read my post today and you will see I am not so sure of myself at the moment. I guess this is a "down" time.
This too shall pass.