The art world can be a very confusing one for most folks, including the artists themselves. The “information age” has a nasty downside and there is the tendency to categorize, label or define to such a degree that often there seems little room for maneuverability. If anything, immediate access to the internet brings many variables to ideas, theories and long held beliefs, and these oft times thrown into the foray without much research or fact checking. We are compelled to be more flexible and adaptable if we are to stay on top of our game.
The “artist” label is one that has as many definitions as there are those who pontificate them. Academia, museum curators, art dealers, auction houses, art critics and gallery owners all differ in their ideas of art and artists. How does one navigate their way around when each has its own set of rules, principles and philosophies?
From the outset, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you can’t follow your own heart, you are definitely lost but, if your “heart” wants you to paint doe eyed cats. well – you can’t expect much of a career in the arts. A certain amount of experience and wisdom would be a good start.
Once you’ve gained some skill in your craft, you need to pay the bills to keep going and this is where artists need to get innovative. Often artists don’t want to discuss the “S” word—sales, as if it were something sleazy. One thing is certain, if you can’t pay your way – you’ll lose your way!
Art groups are a good introduction to shows, exhibitions and camaraderie, which are important because the humour, stories and feedback of fellow artists give you confidence in the direction your work is taking you. Emerging artists cut their teeth in this game by doing whatever it takes to start a following for your work, which is what will sustain you in the long run. It is important not to label or judge another artist- their work or yours. The public will decide what is valid and they will support you if you are humble enough to admit that art is a lifetime learning process. What’s exciting for the collectors is to see growth, expansion and courage to continue despite the hard effort required to make art a profession.
It’s probably best in the long run not to type-cast your work as “this or that” style. The artistic soul evolves and may try many different genres over the years before finding a personal “look”. For confirmation of that idea, check out Picasso.