Friday, December 01, 2006

art work

When one is an artist trying to make money off the art, there is always a point at which your art turns into a business. Many working artists resist this notion because to our minds, art is pure and should not be tainted by things such as money and commerce. We struggle with the business end of our art because we are artists, not accountants, and we are artistic, not number crunchers.

There is also the matter of continuing to reap enjoyment from something that has become... work. Many of us fear turning our creativity into a money making venture because we don't want to lose the pleasure in creating, or lose our focus in the creative process when we have to sell sell sell.

I started thinking about this many years ago when I started referring to what I did in my studio as "work", as in "I'm going to work now!" when I left my home in the morning. While it gave me a certain stick-it-to-the-man pleasure to refer to my pottery studio as a work place, I was also disturbed that there wasn't another word for what I did, since the word "work" seemed like something you would do in an office building under the eyeball of a boss. I tried to come up with a new word because I was afraid that if I kept using the word "work" I would somehow lose my freedom of expression or my sensibility would become dull.

I did not succeed in coming up with another word that didn't sound totally contrived to describe what I do during the day. I go to my studio and work-- that's it. And there are certain realities I have had to learn to deal with as a full-time self-employed artist, and these are the risks of being a working artist. While it gives me great pleasure to work with clay, I don't make my pots solely for pleasure, I mostly do it so I can avoid having to move into that office building. Sometimes I have to make things I don't feel like making. And I have to spend a lot of time doing things I don't really want to do, like ordering supplies, fussing with paperwork, paying bills. Sometimes I complain to myself about this stuff, resist doing it. But when I can walk by that office building and not into it, I feel like I'm still sticking it to the man, and that feeling is worth it!