Art speak, the descriptive language of contemporary art, can seem as opaque as spilled Alphabet Soup. – Morely Safer
What are your thoughts? Are the boundaries for art being stretched beyond the art of things?
Doubts. We all have them – negative thoughts that collide with our self confidence and rock our intrepid spirits. I suspect that even the strongest, most courageous people are plagued with doubts on occasion.
As a child, I was very timid and completely paralyzed with self doubt at times. I overcame the paralysis as a young adult, and I learned to trust my value and purposes. Doubts still crept in, but I translated them into motivators for increasing my value, instead of allowing them to diminish me.
Now in the latter years of my forties, and in the midst of career change, I find myself succumbing to self doubt in ways similar to the ways of my youth.
AAUGH!!! Why have I returned to my old habit of thinking I am the proverbial Charlie Brown blockhead???
Change itself brings insecurities. Changing my career path has put me in completely different arenas of professional engagement than those from my previous endeavors, and the new arenas are unfamiliar to me.
Once a service provider for the less fortunate in the world (mental health counselor), I now am making a living creating a product that is considered a luxury (fine art). My consumers are a different demographic and my colleagues are of a completely different mindset. Not only do I have to adapt to new methods of earning a living (business skills are not in my DNA), I also have to overcome biases and prejudices that I have developed over the years working in the non-profit service sector.
Couple that with my natural artistic brooding and critical eye to the ways of business (artists are programmed to resent the business world for some reason), and I become my own Lucy pulling the football away as I, like Charlie Brown, am about to boot it down the field.
Good Grief, Charlie Brown!
Luckily, I have friends, colleagues and mentors bearing with me and helping me navigate this new world that I have thrust myself into. With their help, I am moving forward instead of letting my doubts paralyze me. And I am finding resources to help me develop new capacities.
I am attending a business institute for artists, which is helping me learn new skills as well as confront the self defeating behaviors interfering with my success. I am meeting with a business mentor who is patiently helping me learn the ways of the business world. I am following up on leads to increase my network of business connections. And I am exploring different ways to make my artwork more accessible, yet still profitable enough to give me a sustainable income.
I love Charlie Brown, but I don’t want to be him. So I am taking a glance back at my old journals where I wrote about overcoming self doubt in the past. What did I do then that I am not doing now? Looking back can sometimes help you move forward.
Despite the doubts, there are exciting things about the new directions I am pursuing. I am on a new journey and a grand adventure. I wonder where it will lead me next?
Do you have doubts about your current place in life? What are you doing to allow them to be motivators for increasing your value instead of allowing them to diminish you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comments.
I have read about two artists recently making news. Both have demonstrated some commercial success in the business world, and both have found ways to market their artwork in a way that appeals to a broad audience.
One of these artists I admire for his artistry and his methods of commercializing his images. The other makes me want to yell “bleh!” because of both his artistic and business practices.
George Rodrique, painter of the iconic Blue Dog paintings that have become a part of pop culture, is the artist I admire. His images became widely popular by Absolute Vodka in 1992. He has been in the news recently because a thief brazenly walked into his gallery and stole two of his paintings.
The paintings have since been recovered, however, as of this writing, the thief has not been caught.
Thomas Kinkade, self proclaimed “Painter of Light”, is the artist who has earned my disdain. Aside from the fact that he was recently arrested for drunk driving and has been under fire for his business practices, I find his artwork pithy and formulaic.
Kinkade’s business methods have been called predatory, taking advantage of people who are drawn to his overt sentimentality and exploitation of Christian faith. His artwork has been dismissed as kitsch by most people in artistic circles.
I find both of these artists’ stories interesting as I explore the world of business and the world of art – two worlds that are separate, but do necessarily converge at times. Sometimes the convergence creates compatibility, sometimes not.
Both Rodrique’s and Kinkade’s artworks appeal to a broad audience. They both have a “man/woman on the street appeal”. Aside from their business practices, I find one’s artwork to be valid (Rodrique), but the other not (Kinkade). Is this because of my own tastes, or is it because there is an inherent validity to one artist’s work that is not there for the other artist?
Every man or woman who goes into business for him or herself must contend with a number of issues and concerns. You have to develop a legitmate business model and you must subscribe to ethical practices to stay in business. I am struggling with these issues as I work on developing my own business.
Not that ethics and legitimacy are a struggle for me – I am simply learning about disciplines that are completely foreign to me.
Artists, however, have other struggles unique to their creative role in society that are layered into the dilemmas of being in business.
Most artists are compelled to create from a need for self expression and a desire to develop new images, designs and forms. Although we want to sell our work, our motivations for creating are deeper than simply endeavoring towards commercial success. In addition to making a product for sale, we are creating artworks that have purpose beyond their commercial value.
Artists who create purely for the sake of appeasing popular demand and lose their other purposes for creation are generally dismissed as “selling out” by the artistic public.
Rodrique paints the same blue dog over and over again. Some might say that represents a pandering to an audience for commercial rather creative purposes. I would disagree. I see a difference in each painting – differences in color choices, composition and background – that make each one unique and special. A joy in the creative process is evident in each work.
Although his images are reproduced on various products, Rodrique’s work always seems to have credibility to me.
The average person can buy Rodrique’s art on commercial products once his creative process is complete. Or the connoisseur can buy an original for $30,000.
Kinkade, however, paints paintings that seem to be shallow throwbacks to 18th Century romantic paintings that have been done over, and over and over again. There is no unique subject matter and the style is limited and formulaic.
I want to be like George, even if it means someone could come and steal a painting off my wall.
What do you think? What are your thoughts about artists mixing creative and commercial motivations?
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