The Beginnings of my Emerging Art Adventure
I am extraordinarily blessed to do what I love for a living. Somehow in the last two years, I've turned a mental health escape from my career into a profession and then into a lifestyle. While I don't claim any profound wisdom nor that my path is the best one, I thought that some aspiring artists out there might be encouraged to see the road that I've taken and have a more raw insight into these challenges. The good, bad and ugly.
I wanted to be an artist, but apart from art at school and university, at the time, there weren't many career prospects in a small Tasmanian town. I let my creativity book close and slip away. After finishing my Art studies in Year 12, I put down my books on Monet and Impressionism and channeled my creativity into IT. I created Hypercard stacks and learned programming fundamentals; after I finished my IT certifications and studies, I was snapped up as a grad by Apple Computer. This was my first job out of school, and I promptly relocated to Sydney, New South Wales.
After some years, IT left me drained, uninspired. But I kept at it because it paid the bills. Where I had some spare money, I attended drawing classes at a community center in Bondi. Painting classes soon followed. For many years, I didn't want to give up my dream of being creative and followed the steps to make it a reality. I made art a habit.
Habits are both foolish and awesome. They're obnoxious because we tend to have many bad ones over the good ones, and they're also fantastic because we don't have to figure out exactly how we want to brush our teeth each day. I would migrate art into a daily habit.
I learned the road is very, very long. It takes a lifetime to develop your craft, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just lying. There will be many tears and not much appreciation (at first).
People can (and will) be cruel or unconstructive towards you and your work. The times I received nasty messages on social media meant I had to grow a very thick skin.
I wish I would have known how much being a working artist today requires you to be a small business professional with an understanding of art market trends and kind of wished I had more business acumen. Still, with the help of a business mentor and accountant, I found my feet in early 2021.
I found it's essential to trust your instincts and your abilities.
Your sincere commitment to your practice is the path to becoming a successful artist. That, and trusting your instincts.
Those two things plus a current approach to marketing = success.
A degree in Fine Arts is not the final answer. I know many highly talented artists who feel unqualified to call themselves artists because they don't have a fine arts degree.
You have it, or you don't. Believing in yourself is paramount to artistic success and artistic happiness.
Finally, it's vital to keep going in the face of rejection. There is much I am still learning, and a lot I don’t even know I don’t know yet, only two years in. Perhaps the most important, though, is the ability to keep going in the face of declines or people not responding to and liking my work.
After pouring my energy into my work, I assume then others will connect with that and want it, whether that’s gallerists or collectors, or curators, but it's not the case. I have more rejections than invitations.
Competition is fierce, the number of declines is exponentially more significant, and we have to be ok and not knocked down by that. Or at least be able to pick ourselves up from disappointments and keep going.