Saturday, December 5, 2015

Artmaking: A Creative Vocation

 I recently took part in a local high school mentor program where working artists meet with students interested in persuing Art as a career. I looked up the meaning of "career" because it did not feel right to me. I really think that "vocation" is a better description of the life of an artist. Vocation is defined as: a strong feeling of being destined or called to undertake a specifice type of work. Artmaking is not a 9-5 job, it is a lifestyle. I am compelled to create something...anything, otherwise I get cranky! So my "vocation" is to do whatever it takes to be able to continue to create.

In light of my personal definition of life as an artist, I decided not talk about different careers in Art - leave that to school counselors. Instead, I focused on general things that have helped me as a working artist. It was a fun experience and I decided to jot down some of the things I shared after the meeting. After looking at the list, I thought it would be fun to share it on the blog. Here it goes:
  1. Practice saying "I am an Artist."  If you don't believe, no one else will.
  2. Design your own educational path. It does not have to be all formal classroom education. Experience is a great teacher.
  3. Always say "YES"  and figure it out later. All my best experiences and connections have occured when I said "yes" to something out of my comfort zone.
  4. Practice, practice, practice - it takes WORK to be really good at what you do.
  5. Keep a sketchbook to document your process. Record what inspires you, try out tools, ideas, what works and what does not. Consider them a resource and a record of your personal journey.
  6. Work toward developing your own style by your choices in subjects, colors,  materials and their application. Use an inspiration board  to help you figure out what your are really interested in and re-evaluate periodically, as your tastes and interests will evolve. 
  7. Get feedback and support. Bring your sketchbook with you everywhere. You never know when you will have a chance to get feedback on what you are doing. Choose a safe audience  - family and friends to gather support.
  8. Post your pictures on social media when you are ready. Pinterest and Instagram are a great place to start.
  9. Allow yourself to be curious and keep asking WHAT IF?
  10. Participate in a collaborative projects, enter competitions, submit artwork to the publications that interest you.  Rejection is a necessary evil of a creative career, so create some positive self talk to get through the tough spots.
  11. Find your "People." Not everyone will like what you do, so keep pushing your art out until you find the folks who "get" your work.
  12. My favorite reading list for a creative life are:
·       Art and Fear - Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland
·       Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
·       Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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