Please notice that the “a” in artist above is a lower case “a.” It should have been lower case in my previous blog about being a professional artist. I’m proud of the fact that I can make a living selling my work. I’m proud that there are enough people in the world who consider my work relevant enough to actually pay me money to buy it. That makes me a professional artist. But that certainly does not make me a great Artist. Upper case “A” I reserve for Artists who history deems to be “Great….” Artists like Picasso, Dali, Georgia O’Keefe… you know the ones. I know a lot of professional artists who make a living selling their work, but are (in my opinion) terrible artists. So, “professional” is about money. It’s only about my art-making as a job.
I’m pretty prolific. I make a lot of art. I sometimes wonder if I would work so hard at it if I was rich. If I was rich, would I be making the same kind of art? Maybe I would be more experimental. Financial independence provides a lot of freedom. If I was rich, would I be making art at all? Necessity and, even desperation… are great motivators. (…the mortgage is due… I gotta sell some art!). Maybe I need a little panic to motivate me.
As idealistic art students in college, we looked down on artists who had actual jobs… especially jobs that had nothing to do with art. Even our teachers were suspect. There’s an old adage… “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”. But, I’ve come to learn that teaching art, to some, is a passion equal to making art. The question still remains… if those artist/teachers were not teaching and not receiving that paycheck every week… would they be more highly motivated to make and sell their art? It doesn’t matter at all for those dedicated teachers who have a true passion for teaching. My only point is that desperation is a great motivator.
Another ongoing conversation I had with one of my professors in college, was the concept of the “selfish artist.” To be a great artist, do you have to be so self-centered that the art takes precedence over everything else? Maybe your family, or your students, or that 9-5 job you have, are distractions from your true calling… making art.
Personally, I’m distracted (happily) by my family, my friends, my dog, my cats, my house, etc…