Wednesday, November 21, 2007

be brave. make art.

That last post sure gave me a lot to chew on. I really appreciate how many people commented on their obsessions. Worry and fear seem to dominate the theme. I’m always struck by how so many people out there want to be artists but instead choose to work jobs they don’t really like because they think they can’t make it as an artist.

I had a conversation with a long-time client the other day whose whole family loves and collects pottery. His daughter is probably about my age and has been making pottery for a while now and really wants to make it her job. He was relating this story to me and his reaction to her, which was, “Don’t do it! You have a good job, benefits, stay where you are!” While I tried to control my severe annoyance that he would imply my job is not worth pursuing, I very gently told him that working a job his daughter doesn’t like is no life at all, no matter how secure it may make her feel. I always call that kind of comfort as wearing the golden handcuffs.

I contrasted his reaction with my own parents, who have never once discouraged me in becoming an artist or suggested I may want to go after a more conventional line of work for the sake of having a steady paycheck. Partly because they know it’s useless trying to reason with me, but mostly because they have always believed I can do whatever I want to. My mother was telling me about a friend whose son wanted to be a photographer, and her friend was telling his son that he should get educated in something that he could, “fall back on”. My mom basically told him that was bad advice and if his son failed as photographer, that would be the time to find something else.

I don’t have any real answers for people who have put themselves in jobs they dislike when they really want to be artists. I would only say that fear is an uncomfortable emotion, but fear moves people. It can spur one one to be better, try something new, ignite the desire to create a different kind of life. I have all kinds of fears, and I have always forced myself to confront the stuff that scares me because I hate cowards, and I hate myself the most when I am not being brave. I would never tell someone to just quit their day job and become an artist, because being an artist is a job like any other and it takes some time to create that position. But I would tell them to make a plan to quit their job and start working on being an artist. Today.


  1. Woo Hoo! I'm posting first! me me me!!! Sorry, I had to give in to that brief revelatory moment. Okay, I've just spent the last weekend hanging out with you (whitney),discussing these matters, and so must put in the comment that being an artist is very hard. It takes years and years of diligent commitment and hard work. I also believe that it has saved my life, and shown me how I connect with the world. I have, after doing this more years of my existence than not (at age 37) finally started to settle into it a bit. I feel when I make something that this is were I am "inspired"(as in connected to something larger than myself, and therefore divine but not dogmatic). This inspiration is not something that can be taught. It happens at moments beyond trusting yourself...You are in fact connected to what you love, so you are not paying attention( to yourself). It feels like elation, that moment when you fall in love (or lust) In this way you are for a moment divine. You are connected to something beyond yourself and this thing is something other people will look at, and connect with, and for a moment forget who they are....It doesn't follow a formula...divinity does not follow a schedule, It doesn't show up because it was offered health insurance.
    I recently had a poem read to me that was good to hear...The gist of it was that your soul deserts you sometime when you need it...As you do the dishes and struggle to pay bills, wait for inspiration as you stare at a blank canvas. your soul visits when you are not paying attention, in a moment of inspired connection and creation...It is divine. Hopefully this sort of divine euphoria can be found as a bookeeper, as the highest of judges and the lowliest grunt. I myself wish for these because I have an immediate need to fill all of the above positions in my small (and poor) company :)

  2. I did n`t comment on your last post because I could N`t relate myself to anything obsessive. I don`t have obsession(s)... Of course i think about a lot of things going on in our lives, but the first impression and reaction to all is joy and thankfulness. I love life and everything in it. I don`t like sad things but I do believe everything has itś reasons. Sometimes we can understand these reasons, sometimes not.
    That was for your last post.
    For what you wrote today, I had some thoughts too - I could and would recommend or assure that everyone should follow their dreams. Even if it is against parents wishes or community`s expectations. just do what you want to do. This is the only way to discover who you are and why are you here. It will give you some answers and for sure more questions.And yet more answers. I don`t think there is something you can call absolute failure,because everything what we experience is developing us.
    Thank You for sharing!

  3. My obsessions have obsessions I think...
    This post reminds me of a book I have, you might like it too..."Art and Fear - Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING" by Daid Bayles and Ted Orland. It helps me when I fall into the trap of fear. Thank you for your open and honest posts!

  4. my parents were horrified that i wanted to get my degree in art. my dad is a doctor and while he believes in what he does, he is miserable and works really really hard. it is odd, but i think it is their work ethic from way back, that money is the most important thing, and i guess maybe when we are old and want to retire, we may agree.