Today is my birthday and I feel like I need to take a moment to look back at the past year. I guess that's really what birthdays are for. They give us a definitive day to look back on where we have come from and to think about what's ahead. It's also a day for everyone to tell you how awesome you are. I like birthdays.
Almost a year ago I had my first solo art show. I didn't have a website. I didn't have an artist statement. I never had my work shown anywhere. Yet, my wonderful friend and talented tattoo artist, Christopher Ryan, had a beautiful shop and a willingness to let me put a ton of nails in his walls to have my own show. The opening was incredibly successful (my heart almost exploded) and gave me exactly what I needed to move forward with my work.
A year changes things. That show propelled me into making new life choices and a renewed creativity. But as I look back on that I'm realizing that I may be losing something. For that show I did nothing "by the book". I did not build my CV. I did not create a website to display work so that curators could find me. I did not network in the SD art scene. I did not write an artist bio, an artist statement, or any other possible thing an artist needs to write. I did not create a portfolio. I did not go through the process of submitting my work to galleries, then get rejected, then submit to more galleries, then get rejected, then submit, then get rejected, ad nauseam. I just asked my friend, "Hey man! Can I show my art in your space?" and he said, "Sure!"
I'm not denying the importance of all those pieces that facilitate in building a brand. However, I may be losing sight on the "just fucking do it" part of things. Building your brand as an artist takes time, focus, and diligence to create something special and unique. However, creating the art is the ever present beast that should always come first. And the things that I'm creating don't necessarily need to be hidden away until the day comes when the brand is perfected.
So as I bring this blog to a close so I can actually go celebrate, I think my take away from my last year as I move forward into this new year is that the art always needs to come first. And using the incompletion of the other pieces of the puzzle as an excuse not to move forward is something that I'm putting on myself and I'm totally using it as reason to get in my own way. I need to remember the lesson that going off the beaten path can bring me to exciting (and even profitable) places as well...it brought me here didn't it?
As you look back on your last year, what was the biggest lesson you would like to take as you move forward with your next year? Or do you just think about cake on your birthday? Mmmmm...cake.