The Laws of Nature

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Surviving Graduation, Part 2

The View from the Studio Door: How Artists Find Their Way in an Uncertain World
By Ted Orland (2006)

Chapter 5: Surviving Graduation, Part 2

The rest of this chapter examines the transition of the artist from student to professional. Orland lays out the typical steps that lead to success when one become an independent artist. These steps may be distilled to one: make art every day. He states your mastery of craft is directly proportional to the sheer number of hours you throw into the effort, but your vision unfolds in concert with your total life experience – in other words, slowly, and only across extended periods of time. Our “vision” needs time to mature and we must be patient enough let it. We achieve this one painting at a time, day after day, year after year.

What is it we’re hoping to achieve in our artmaking? Many of us find that it’s emotionally satisfying because we have an inner compulsion to make art and we need a creative outlet. For me, that’s true but there’s also something more. I need to share my work with others – to exhibit it in public venues. It’s not vanity, it’s simply my way of communicating with society. As Orland puts it, over the long run it’s the relationship of your art to the entire culture that determines its value. In the deepest sense, the relationship of your art to the culture is its value.

I feel the need to expand Orland’s view of what it takes to become a professional artist because it’s limited to that of an Academic (Orland is a college art professor). There’s a whole other side to life as a professional artist and that’s the business side. While an artist, first and foremost, must be dedicated to producing authentic work that is technically skillful, he/she must also attend to all that goes into exhibiting and selling the work in order to participlate in the professional arena. Colleges don’t include that in their art curriculum. But, that’s a discussion for another day.

What are your thoughts?


RH Carpenter said...

Every one of my favorite blogs is telling me to go back to work and work more and more. Wonder why it hasn't sunk in yet that working more is the only way to get better, not sitting around feeling sorry for myself and my last few feeble efforts? And thank goodness there are online sources for all the real information about becoming a professional artist.

Anonymous said...

Boy, there sure is a lot more to art than throwing some paint on paper or canvas isn't there? Not to speak ill of those who do throw paint on canvas. But, there is a lot of work behind an wonderful piece or great show. With that...I best go draw and paint some more! Thank you Kathy.

Linda Roth said...

Exactly why I started my blog Drawing-of-the-Day. The daily commitment was my ploy to put me in my studio every day. At first just for drawings. After nearly a year, I'm back to painting and researching subjects for paintings with camera in my purse at all times.
As for the business of art, that's a job by itself. So far I haven't been willing to put in the time. My daughter in-law self appointed herself my agent. And my husband has appointed himself my business manager. That's fine with me. I'm obsessed with regular production and quality control. The business of art is a wonderful topic for future discussion. I look forward to it. --How come there's no e-mail check box today; I like to read what others have to say.

Anonymous said...

Another great post Kathy. I'm not sure I'll ever turn my art into a business (after my vision matures) simply because of how difficult that would be.
I admire all of you who do make a business from your art.

Unknown said...

Hi Rhonda - I've found the best remedy for falling off the horse is getting back on. Everytime I paint something I hate, or that makes me feel unworthy, I quickly start a new painting. Works every time!

Hi Peggy - yes, I'm always dismayed at the amount of time I must spent preparing for exhibitions, sales, etc. - all the business behind the art. It's a real time-consumer, but necessary.

Hi L.W. - you're lucky to have family who help you with the business! Over the past year or I've posted a lot about the business of doing art, so you might want to look back at some of those posts. My readers contributed a great deal that's worth reading!

Hi Pam - you never know!!

Dan Kent said...

I second Pam in my admiration.

Celeste Bergin said...

What is it we’re hoping to achieve in our artmaking? I am never quite sure. I remember, in my youth, dreaming about being an artist and I did very little but dream. I "lived in my head" instead of doing the work that was required. When I finally actually started to do the work I learned that it was much harder to REALLY do the work than just think about it! There is an upside to being a "late bloomer", however..and that is that because I put it off for so long it is all still new to me and I am always enthused. I know people who were in the art business for many years and now they are tired and weary. To answer the question about what I am trying to do...I have to say I am just happy to have thrown my hat into the ring. It is a dream fulfilled.

Robin said...

Hi Kathy, the local art college does include a "business side of art" course and what a student needs to be able to do in order to transition their art career into the professional world. They actually told me there has been a lack of interest in the course and that they are not going to continue to offer it to graduating seniors. Then I heard from several teachers at the school they wanted it to be a requirement for all students to take the course. I guess it is the ongoing weak link for many "creative" types, addressing the business aspects of sharing and promoting their creativity. sigh. I follow another blog that does cover details with the business aspects of surviving in the art world. I can suggest checking out particularly on her "marketing monday" blogposts plus I will back track and revisit your posts too. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Hi Dan - Thanks!

Hi Celeste - it's wonderful that you have become a artist! Looking at your work, I would have thought that you've been an artist for a long, long time. It's mature work. Although I've been an artist a long time I can't imagine that it would ever grow stale. It's still the most exciting thing that I can imagine doing!

Hi Robin - it's good to know that a business course for art is offered at your local college. So many art departments don't include it. And, thanks for the link - I'll take a look!

Mark Sheeky said...

When I made computer games I was advised that half of the time should be spent making and half of the time marketing. I think that's good advice for anyone going it alone. Of course, I haven't taken it at all. I've never taken an art course but I think it'd bonkers not to include anything about how to make a living as an art maker.

Alas though, school can't teach independence. The more it tries the more it will fail (unless the course ignores the students and allows them to do as they desire!)

Unknown said...

Hi Mark - so true!