You want to study art, you like the concept, the creativeness, the idea of exploring with others, the notion of taking a journey through your mind and creating anew… you know your parents and some friends may be against it preferring you take a more common path, but nay, you are beckoned by the romance of paint, the structure of materials, the bohemian lifestyle etc and nothing will stop you.
In your pursuit of becoming “Artly’ or the artist you want to be, perhaps you want to make sure that what and who you are is loaded with integrity, humility, ability and energy, not just “passion” and an interest in being part of the art scene, thinking that the parties and “cavorting” with like minded people will somehow make you some fabulous artist, or the Muse of some fabulous Artist.
I can’t prove to you that doing any of these things will ensure you become a successful Artist, an A grade student or any other measure or Artistic success, but years of observing Exhibitions, Art Students, chatting to Gallery Directors and interviewing Artists in has given me some insights.
Take a look online and do your own research and find articles on Artists talking about what it takes to be a success and you will find a mixed bag of incredible advice and ideas on striding forward. Not all of the information and advice will you be able act on but learn well the ways of success to ensure you give yourself the best chance of moving towards your goal.
Let’s get started with a list of pointers.
Get busy – It’s one thing to have a creative idea, and another thing entirely to bring it to life, think then make, build your skills and abilities by doing things and making mistakes, learn how to handle the materials you want to work with, eventually the mistakes will become less, your ability to create things should improve.
Explore creativity – My experience has been that not a lot of Art teachers teach how to be creative, it can however be learnt. Make it a thing worth your learning so you don’t have to put up with creative blocks and can keep producing and exploring with little fuss.
Likers and haters – Social media will have probably taught you there are both, the same with art, some viewers will be haters due to jealousy, some will be lovers because they believe it is the thing to do, “Oh I love your work” is an ego boosting validation of what you do but that can be fairly hollow, friends and family who cannot articulate the details of why they love your work may have good intentions but may lack a deeper ability to tell you why, explore the ‘why’ question often.
Beware of the stereotype – At art school one of the Lecturers referred to Van Gough as the Artists Artist, selling little, seemingly driven by his art, lived a passionate life etc. take a look at the art people you come across is it really necessary to have purple hair, radical makeup, wild ideas and party like a demon to make you an artist? of course not… nor do you need to struggle and give up on living normally (making money etc) to find the roots to your creative endeavours. I figure there is a time for being eccentric and a time for not being eccentric (which may or may not include purple hair…)
Keep going – People can give up when things get tough, people lose sight of their goals, people do all manner of things when the ‘chips are down’. Persistence helps, goal setting may help, working through rather than giving up may lead to fresh insights and may lead to more positive productive outcomes. One of my Art Teachers used to say “It’s the plodders that get by” so plod, and put one foot in front of the other.
Try stuff – Just because you choose to paint does not mean you can’t make sculptures or any other form of art. the same with styles, give things a go, I figure it’s all about exploring, reinventing, testing and pushing boundaries. Try new things, if you are a realist, try abstract, try collage, try drawing, who says we have to have a ‘body of work’ that is consistent and shows progression. This may again be part of the stereotype that could be holding a lot of people back.
Ask – There are heaps of people who are more than willing to assist you, ask for information. Artists, Gallery Directors, other Students, Teachers, Art Store staff, Framing businesses, and the list goes on. I have had people contact Artists I have interviewed on this site directly and have a chat about details of their work and I don’t know of any of the artists who have knocked back the chance to have a chat. You can learn a lot from engaging with all these people and more. The amount of brilliant knowledge out there is immense, the more you ask the more you can learn. Keep asking, keep searching. Finding out what will make you the sort of Artist you want to be comes from exploring and chatting to learn more, do more and be more.
Become an overnight sensation – If you know anyone who has become an ‘overnight sensation’, look hard, you will soon find they were probably a hard worker, chugging away in the background for many years before they were discovered or made a breakthrough that put them on the world’s stage as an overnight sensation. If they look sensational and young they probably started out earlier than you.
There is crap you have to deal with – Creating Artist statements that people may not read, rejection from Galleries, rejection from grant applications, rejection from those who may love you dearly, things you try that don’t work, sitting in a gallery and watching how many people don’t turn up. This list could get endless, but know that crap happens and you have to deal with it. Breathe in breathe out and repeat, get tough and move on, if the crap starts to define you it may lead to difficulties later on.
That’s my list, like it… let me know by adding a comment, don’t like it… do the same!
Regards, Steve Gray
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