One year ago, I shifted my life significantly. I stepped away (mostly) from an almost two decade career in order to explore my work as an artist. In that year I've learned inspiring, hopeful, and hard lessons. I figured at this one year mark, it would make sense to talk about a few of those lessons.
Participate and support.
This has probably been the most helpful thing I have done since I began this journey. By going to as many art shows as I can mentally handle, I have made friends, learned about the paths other artists have taken, gotten a clearer understanding of how I'd like to be part of this community, and made connections with people that have helped get my work out of my studio and onto gallery walls. I have really learned that you get what you give. By dedicating my time and my emotional support, I have received tenfold and I am incredibly grateful for that support I have received in return.
Keep fucking learning.
Though I haven't been able to do this as much as I'd like, attending workshops/classes, whether they are creative or business oriented, has been absolutely invaluable to my practice. It has helped me integrate new concepts into my work that would have otherwise not occurred to me, which in turn makes my work more dynamic and ultimately more fulfilling. It has also helped me navigate the business aspect of being an artist...which is one the more challenging roles I've taken on. If I discontinued my need to learn more, I can certainly see a stagnant future, which could very easily be my artistic downfall. This all leads to my next lesson.
Continue to evolve.
This is kind of my mantra at the moment. I think the fact that I can be my own worse critic plays a huge role in this as my obsession. I don't want my work to become unrecognizable from what it is that I create now, however, I can't help but want to always be better. Perhaps one day, I will feel fully satisfied in the work I do but some how I doubt it. And though thinking shitty thoughts about your own work isn't the best direction for your overall mental health, it certainly has been a helpful push towards more satisfying work overall. So for now, "continue to evolve" will remain my mantra as I begin each new piece. I'll let you know if a new mantra replaces it.
I was so fucking naive.
Well I can say with certainty that this is the hardest lesson I've learned. To put everything on the table, I knew jack shit about making a living as an artist. Sure, I knew there were a lot of artists out there. Sure, I knew it would be hard work. But that's really where it ended. I had no clue as to how much people want to take from artists. Though, I do need to say that I have a total understanding that people need to run a sustainable business, and without those businesses artists wouldn't have the vast opportunities that they do. I'm just saying how, in the end, the odds aren't stacked in the favor of the artist as much as I thought they would be. However, for an industry that considered a luxury, I guess I'm not that surprised. And rather than be bummed about it, I'm trying my best to create a path for myself that will be the most realistic. We'll see how that works out.
All that being said about making a living is tough and blah blah blah, I have an immense amount of gratitude for all the people who have supported my crazy endeavor thus far. From the wonderful people who have connected to my work and now have one of my pieces in their collection, to the absolutely amazing and supportive folks who ask me to participate in their spaces, to those that come out to see what I'm doing or just even post words of support online, and finally to friends and family who play integral roles in helping my visions come to life. That shit is my life blood right now! No matter how negative I get in my head, you always lift me up and I will NEVER take that for granted. NEVER.
To wrap all of this up, I'm not sure if sharing the lessons I've learned so publicly is absolutely necessary but it certainly will make things interesting for me at the end of year two. And who knows, maybe a few of these tidbits will be useful for someone else that dares to take the path of working artist. In the meantime, continue to evolve people!