What does it mean to MAKE it as an artist? Most likely, there are as many answers to this question as there are artists on earth. This post comes on the heels of asking myself this question over and over again. I had one of my infamous ideas for a project which could take years to complete. In the meantime, I started to poke and prod the online soils to get opinions and comments. I asked:
" How many of you wish you could be a part of the NY/World art scene, but find yourself in mid-America showing at small galleries or community art venues or just online? If this sounds like you, why don't you take the plunge and move to a thriving art center or place where you can get more artist notoriety???"
After asking these questions, my FB page lit up like a Christmas tree. Artists were eager to respond. I am saving specific comment details for my aforementioned project. However, I can condense the flavor of the opinions into categories. Artists from around the country mentioned competition, the futility of the mere numbers of artists in NY, lack of art experience to the degree needed to enter the big leagues, living conditions/standard of living, contentment with a smaller, less known galleries, and of course, MONEY.
I will never move to NY or be a part of that scene. I can't see the benefit of it really. I never wanted it enough. The superficiality coupled with the smoke and mirrors of the NY art scene scares me. The cost to live there is astronomical. MOST artists make very little money and work numerous jobs to support their art career aspirations. I do that too, but with a lot less stress. Of course, there is no golden carrot hanging in front of my nose. I will never be shown in a world class gallery. I am not in the right circles to even get near that aspiration. Yet there are many NY artists who are close and hang onto the outer rim of those circles. They white knuckle it as they hold on for dear life. They have hope, but even they complain about holding on too long and/or too tight.
Enter this month's New York Magazine, April 30, 2012 issue "How to Make It in the Art World". This is such a wonderful collection of articles of the typical art scene B.S. and wonderment. Even though I am not there, I live vicariously. The devil whispers in my ear to read and keep up with the debauchery, while the angel on my other shoulder reminds me of the virtues. I eat up this stuff like a teenage girl watching Snooki on the "Shore". After this issue came out, I noticed Jerry Saltz's FB page posting apologies and explanations about the issue. He got hundreds of comments on his posts about his own writing and the entire publication. I read every comment and realized many things. One thing that hit me like a brick is except for the dangling carrot, even NY artists feel the same things as artists all over our country. If you review the threads it becomes obvious money (or lack of it) isn't really the only source of pain. Jerry Saltz said it best when he responded:
" You ask about me writing "How to Make it in the Art World." I do not think that there is such a thing as "IT." At all. No how; no way... You want to make money, you mean? Invent/make something that people want to pay a lot of money for, I suppose. I want you to be rich. But most artists, while they always say all they want is to have money, really just want to dance very naked in front of a lot of people. If you just want people's attention, I suppose you should invent or make something that will get you that attention ... IF you really really really really want one of those things, that's really all you have to do.... But artists want much much more... Or the ones I know do.. In the meantime know that the ONLY rule is that are no rules. I promise you this..."
DANCING NAKED. After reading this, my eyes opened wide. I understood something about myself and many other artists I know. Money has never been my motivation to make art, ever. When I read "while they always say all they want is to have money, really just want to dance very naked in front of a lot of people." I got it. He might as well have screamed this in my ear. It isn't about money at all. It is about attention followed by appreciation followed by a feeling of value followed by a fair amount of ego stroking followed by (hopefully) some bucks thrown in for good measure.
I think when and if any artist feels this, no matter where they are, where they create or show their art, they feel like they MADE it.
Click pic to see the NY MAGAZINE current issue on ART