Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tortured Artist? or just Monkey Business?

The tortured artist, the eccentric artist, the mad/insane artist are all stereotypes that many folks can recognize. The interesting thing is that sometimes they are all true, even in the most normal of personalities. Choosing to create visual beauty for a career can really drive you to a level of insanity. Artists live on the edge, sometimes without even knowing it. Keeping a creative mind fresh and relevant in no easy task. It takes a level of strength and determination to continue to do this for a living. Most artist are not opening up a conversation about this or rarely talk about the dark side of this occupation or shall I say "Life" because it is more that an occupation. You have to live it...and that can be interesting.

I am usually a very positive person, always looking on the bright side of even the most tough situations. I carry myself with a level of confidence and positive thoughts. I am also very good at masking what is really going on inside my head. The pressure and feelings of rejection are always floating in the back of my mind. I get down on myself about most of my work in private. I never feel like it is good enough. Hitting blocks of zero creativity and/or creating work that is Shit happens more than I would like to admit. I know that this is all part of the process. I am willing to open up about the demons that play inside my head to create a larger picture of who I am as an artist.

Working with Galleries and Art Agents is all part of the business. It can be the most positive/negative part of the whole deal. We are all in it to make a few dollars to keep doing what we do. Business is business and most of it is monkey business as far as I am concerned. They are real good at stroking your ego to keep you happy. I just smile and know it is just part of the game. They know...that I know...but the dance still goes on. They are always on the "Hot Lead" and there is always someone that is real interested in buying your piece. Again, I just smile! Until that painting is out the door and I have a check in my hand they can do/say whatever they want to feel like they are relevant to me and my business as an artist. Like I said it is all Monkey Business.

I can have multiple great things going on in my art world, Wonderful shows, International acclaim, Galleries calling me to show my work, etc. etc. but all that it takes to bring me down is a drought in sales. How silly is that? It can cripple my whole creative mindset. The doubt in my work takes hold and grips me tight. Everything suffers!...Almost like I need that validation of my work through a sale. This is something that may be a flaw in my ego? When I am selling a lot it shows in my attitude towards working and I end up creating a lot of work. When a drought hits I get frustrated. Aside from the money why is that so important? It is a jig saw puzzle I am working on piece by piece and someday I will complete the whole 1000 piece puzzle to reveal the solution. It sounds crazy to me even as I type it out. Maybe I am just admitting it for the first time out loud?  

I Love my life as an Artist and I would not want to be doing anything else with my life. My talent is a gift handed down through my heritage and family. It is a legacy I intend to pass on to my children. I am honored that so many paintings of mine are hanging on walls all over the world. I am honored that folks take a piece of me into their homes and it becomes part of their world. I do not take any of this for granted. I just wanted to speak out a bit about some of the challenges that artists face. I live in the real world and not some Idealistic fantasy world. This is a job! I can spout out how being an artist is all about the art....or the soul of the artist....color and theory and any other thing that may be said. These are all part of it on many levels. Some can artists live those idealistic views all the time. I wish I could but reality sets in and I have to pay bills and raise a family. So I have to play the game....thus the insanity can set in? The crazy world of selling paintings, staying creative and keeping my life happy as an artist. No one ever told me it would be easy. Matter of fact all of the craziness and pressure actually are part of the fun in many ways also. Pressure pushes you to create and be creative. I sometimes paint my best work when I am in a tortured state of mind. Funny how it all works out in the end.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Artistic Freedom?

Artists are not chosen, they are born to create. Something inside of an artists mind and being pushes them to express ideas and visions through many sorts of mediums. We all search for some kind of success in this endeavor. Success is a personal vision and goal. Some feel like they want to make a living doing what they love. Some create just to create and care little about the business of selling and showing. Some do not care about anything but the art. Some use their talent for greed.....and on and on. Like I said it is a very personal thing. The challenge can be staying true to whatever your thoughts on creativity are. Sometimes for me this challenge can be difficult. The balance between Artistic Freedom and the "Brand" / business you have created.

I create whatever  comes to my mind. I enjoy a level of freedom in my art that opens me up to do what I really feel like painting. I paint stuff that some think is weird, beautiful, meaningful, moving etc. I get an idea and I want to see it come to life in front of me. Some of my work never is seen by the public or will never be hanging in a gallery. It is where I hide.

The thought on my mind lately is where is the line between what I create and what the business I have built. I put a post on my facebook artist page the other day to get some thoughts on this very subject.

Do you ever feel Censored by your own success? Pressure from Galleries, Dealers, your clients and fans to not stray to far from what you have done. Protecting the "brand" we all work so hard to establish but also holding ones creativity back in a nice package. 

I would like to hear some points of view on this subject...The classic Artist vs. Artist as business person...Walking that fine line problem...

I got some great feedback on the subject. I feel like this is an issue artist deal with all the time. Making a living and keeping the folks happy that are helping you make that living can be tricky. I have to say that when it comes down to it I am still the one in control, even though it does not feel like it all the time. I am the talent. I am the one that also helps them make a living (in the case of galleries and agents and all those crazy commissions). They like to make you feel like they are the ones in control cause they have the walls and the client list. I just let them have their complex and focus on creating.  We have to help each other find that middle ground.

Paintings or certain series of paintings are popular and I do enjoy creating them when requested by the folks I work with. I may have a conversation that states that these certain type of paintings really get a lot of traffic, buzz or we may be selling a lot of this type. I love that....It gives me a direction on aspects of my work as an artist. Some of my work may not be right for that gallery while one of my series may be selling like hotcakes in that very gallery.  

The reason this has been on my mind is that lately I have been working on some pieces that could be considered controversial in some circles. I want folks to eventually see them for me to convey the messages I want to put forward. I find that I have an issue in my mind with getting them out to the world as I may do damage to my Brand and the business relationships I have. It is a crazy balance between having and artistic freedom and the business side of it. I find it funny that we do this to express ourselves but sometimes becoming successful doing that very thing can take away a bit of that freedom of expression.

I know, I know, I will get the feedback about this issue saying..."Free yourself," "Don't let the Man or Money hold you back as an artist," "It is all about the art," Be true to yourself" and all the other Idealistic jumble we all like to convince ourselves is the way of an artist. In the real world we need to make money to keep food on the table. I guess if you are an artist as a Pro and your means of income you have to play the game on some levels. It is a hard pill to swallow! Even some of the greatest artists in history where told what to do and how to do it on certain projects. Matter of fact if you know your art history, self expression was not the way of most artists for centuries. You learned from a master and painted like that master. You painted portraits of rich people or where commissioned by the church! It was not really until the 19th century that artists started to break out and go against the grain. In the 20th century it all became about artistic self expression and we are all better for it!

The solution to my issue of creating some works that are controversial and having an outlet to get that message out is an easy one. Create, create create what you feel. Make it happen. It is important to create things that may cause a stir. Art is sometimes not about beauty but sending a message. I can protect my business and still push out a message. It just takes a different twist. Authors, Painters, Musicians have been doing it forever. It can be as simple as a Pen Name! An alter ego of sorts? A hint of secrecy with a dash of fun denial.

So artistic freedom is alive!!!! It can be done!!!! I will not be controlled!!! If you look hard enough and wok hard enough there is always a solution.

My little Rant is over....thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts.
I do not have the answers......I hardly even know the questions!!!!
Peace and Love to you