Tuesday, November 29, 2005

♥ to ♥

today i've been having some heart to hearts with myself.
do i want to do illustration or pursue painting?
what would i do if $ were not an issue?
money is an issue.
neither path gaurantees security.
how do i trust myself when making art?
how does one follow a safe path while following their dreams?

i like children's books. i like narratives. i like cute art. i like accessible art. i like books with art. and that seems to translate to illustration. i like illustrations that are more like paintings and paintings that are more like illustrations.

i don't like painting for the sake of making a product. this feels scary to say what i don't like.

i want to be in control of my art. i also want to build it with layers and not have strict deadlines. leaning me away from illustration, towards paintings. i like big messy canvases and just watching what paint does without having it make sense.

i don't like how paintings in art school are big theories and mumbo jumbo art speak and inaccessible to most non-artists. but sometimes i do like the intellectual aspect of it. but not the exclusivity.

i know it's not either/or. i know it's interesting what's in between. but when i'm at school paying the big bucks it would be comfortable to commit to a major and commit to a path.

what if i want to get my MFA in painting and make kid's books and sew and silk screen and do a bit of graphic design. what if i just DID IT and didn't constantly question it all like a ping pong ball? back and fourth back and fourth. you don't want to be in my brain right now.
i like definition. what if i just defined myself as artist...
what if i just did everything that fed me more and made my heart sing and embraced that, than problematizing (probleMATIze) the whole thing by needing to choose ONE path.

the idea of just painting for myself sounds so lush. how can i make it more about what interests me and less about my specific assignments?

fitting that i got locked out of my studio when having this conversation with myself. someone told me it was mercury in retrograde.


Amanda Woodward said...

ok, lets talk about this, seriously, you & I.
I've been at a small community college for the past 3 and a half years building my portfolio for "a real life art school". And I've built & built, I started with what my professors thought & moved on then I felt back in a rut where illustration wasn't fine art and fine art was "better". And I feel like personally, illustration is better! Your right, its accessible, its amazing! But it is SO hard when you feel like you have to "choose" between the two. I visited my top 3 choices in art schools to check them out & I HATED them, I hated how phoney they seemed. Argh. So did I mention that I love your blog?! :D

liz elayne said...

I truly appreciate the honesty in this post. And so good to say the things that feel scary. Bravo to your bravery...

anj said...

If you are a working artist, then you probably won't be in control of all of the art you create. That's just part of the job, if your work is paid illustration, for example. Nothing wrong with that, if that doesn't conflict with one's goals. I never understood the view that one shouldn't make art to sell it. That's precisely what lots of artists who are "living the dream" are doing (the product is one's artistic skills), and what's wrong with that, I've asked myself. People, even artists, need to make some money in order to subsist. Making money is necessary, but one doesn't have to make money by making art. That's a personal, individual choice; that fact then frees you from this dilemma.

I've been wondering lately about the idea of "making a living doing what you love". I love playing guitar; I love making art; I love crafting; I love sculpture. The idea of doing these things all day long, and possibly being paid for it does sound like bliss. But, the reality is that if I made these things also my career, something would have to give. I'd have to choose one or two to be really good at in order to make myself competitive. Because as pristine as we'd like to think the field of art, it is competitive and stressful and sometimes not very creative at all. What I love to do would then become a source of stress, like a chore that has to get done, instead of my treasured haven.

You could decide that you will make art to your heart's content, and make a living doing something else. That way art will remain something you do because you love to do it and you'd be in total control of the content and medium at all times. But, you still need to pay for all the cool art supplies to make that art or to pay for booths at a show, so you have to make some money to buy all that stuff. Your job, whatever that might be (illustration work seems right up your alley since you have the skills for it; what about teaching?) would supply the money. You get to do two things well -- make art and make a living.

I think the idea of "making a living doing what you love" should be revised to something like... "make a living doing something that will let you do what you love".

kelly said...

you have to do what you love and you sound like me....so many options and loves. i never feel totally satisfied. i am a freelance graphic designer [that pays the bills] at heart, i am an artist...always learning and playing, but never fulfilled because i am working to bring the real greens in. so do what you love - the money will come. maybe not when i you want it, but it will come.

a said...

"how to make a living to make the time to do what i love and to stay inspired and connected to this love". I like and totally understand your tweak. Finding time and staying inspired - that's not so simple to figure out. It's nice to hear many perspectives on this. Definitely something to learn from everyone.

Tamar said...

I too have asked myself such questions in the past. Right now I am on an academic path, and in my past life (before I chose my current path) I did a stint at what is considered a "prestigious" art school. I learned a lot about art and artists from that experience, though not exactly what the school had in mind, I think. One of the most important lessons was that the kind of art I always liked and enjoyed doing was now called "Illustration" whereas the often boring stuff was called "fine arts" and considered "higher" and headier than illustration. In other words, these are arbitrary categories imposed by the art school and working world on artists, rather than real statements about the kind of art that an "illustrator" does verses the kind of art that a "painter" does.

(I was in neither department, but studying graphics instead because when I was a teenager I had abandoned the idea that the kind of art I liked to do (figurative, but not "classical") had a place in the contemporary art scene. All the classes I tried to go to involved drawing vases of flowers, or else throwing painted macaroni against the wall. I wish I had known then about "illustration.")

The point is, while picking one major or another may have certain professional ramifications, it doesn't have to come with artistic restrictions. What art schools call "illustration" I call simply "art." So seperate YOUR goals from those of the departments at school. You can do illustration-type art (as they define it) without deadlines and commercial pressures if you wish. The experience and approach are yours to keep, even if you wish to use them in a "fine art" way. You can paint "illustration" if you want.

The question of whether doing what you love for money ruins that love - I think it undeniably changes it, though not necessarily in a negative way. It's quite understandable to decide to do it just for yourself. Ultimately that was my decision...but that is a much longer story!

Thanks for posting on this important topic - I hope this long answer from a stranger is helpful!


la vie en rose said...

i love that you dig into yourself seeking answers...that you don't shy away from the questions...that you're brave enough to lay it out there...

Shell said...

As others have said I love that you are asking the question.
I think the questions, uncertainty and insecurities are part and parcel of growing up in any field. It's easy to get caught up in bullshit in so many areas of life. I think the best way to go in terms of the arts is to balance a love of making art with a love of living (including our 'need' for the essentials), and just follow that road, wherever it may take you. I believe life is an art rather than a science, and it's great to dissect it every now and then, but if we don't take a few creative risks and hold onto our 'dream' (whether we ever reach it or not) we just end up in an existential quagmire of meaninglessness.

Having read your blog I have no doubt you'll forge a path that is creative and meaningful to you. Good luck!