Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Inspiring and Practical Advice for Artists

Last night I heard this incredible speaker and I wrote down some notes from that in hope that what inspired me will inspire you also. I hope I haven't misrepresented anything that he has said. I thought it was very valuable for artists in any discipline. Take a moment and see if it speaks to you.

(And I know this may seem ironic that I'm posting this after my previous post about a holiday sale of my art, but I like to think that some of my pieces are made purely for self-expression. If the piece speaks to someone and is purchased by them, that's icing on the cake.)


Andrew is co-director of Headling Dance Company, Philadelphia, PA

Thanks for doing what you do. This culture needs you. 99% of what is out there today visually in the form of imagery is there to sell something. You are putting out the 1% that is not. The general opinion

out there is that there is the top layer of artists/performers who make scads of money and enjoy great acclaim, to the rest it’s just a hobby. Just because you don’t achieve that overwhelming acclaim or notoriety you wanted doesn’t mean that you failed. You can’t always say what has been accomplished. Andrew thinks his real mission is telling this message, speading these words to other artists.

Artists’ lives can be burdensome and relentless. Your goal should be to build a life that is balanced, sustainable and productive.

Things that stop artists are 1) workaholism 2)perfectionism/competitiveness and 3)poverty.

1) Workaholism-Plan downtime. You need it. All artists work too hard and are too hard on themselves (i.e. I’d be more successful if I only worked harder.)

2) Perfectionism/Competitiveness-Get used to “good enough”. Why are other things in our lives good enough, but not our work? On competing with other artists, repeat this mantra-“The success of other artists is good for me.” Repeat as necessary until you mean it.

3) Poverty-Figure out the amount of money you need to live on for one year without financial panic. Figure in time/money for vacation, insurance, savings.

Mission- Be rooted in why you’re doing it-people love to connect to your mission. Some may envy that you have a mission as they’re still trying to figure it out or don’t feel connected to theirs. The world really wants you to stay close to that mission.

Represent yourself well. We need to be able to talk about and write about our work well.

Don’t shortchange your skills. Conceiving, planning, putting together and delivering a project on time takes skills that are considered management level skills in the outside world.

Partner with people who get your work. Talk to them, have coffee with them, they can move your work forward.

Placemaking-People need a HERE. Be where you are locally and share, be interested and open to other artistic work outside of your discipline. It’s important to have a local presence as well as getting out globally with your work---what you do globally brings others back to your locality, and what you do locally opens others’ minds to what can be done globally.

Community is important. It’s a loop—give---get---give---get. Figure out something that connects people.

Keep making work that is visionary, dangerous, and interesting.

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