Carpe Diem comes from a Latin poem by Horace. The phrase is popularly translated as “Seize the Day”. However, Horace used the word to mean “Enjoy and make use of”. I like Horace’s original intent.
I have many art friends who would do well to implement Horace’s advice to us all. I don’t say this from a boastful attitude, because I know my weaknesses. In college, I was not the most talented artist. In fact, in most of my classes, I was usually darn near the middle or average. But I learned one hard and fast rule that has served me well from then until now. Carpe Diem, Brother!
If you can’t “out-talent” the competition, you can darn sure outwork them. Most of my college education in art consisted of foundational drawing and developing the persistency to stick with it until it was right. Once I came to the realization that I was just going to have to work harder than the “gifted and talented” group, I was unstoppable.
While they would rest on their proverbial laurels, I was working on my skill. My senior year I came across an Ad man named Chris Hill, who taught an advanced Commercial Art class. Chris Hill cemented Carpe Diem in my brain, pointed me toward the job market and basically said “Go outwork the competition.”
I quickly grew weary of the type of people that float in the cesspool that is advertising (sorry if I offend any of you, but I have experience in the field), but it seemed everywhere my art career took me, there were groups of people that would settle for a low bar. (This would eventually lead to my abandonment of art for a period of “wandering in the desert”---but that’s another blog post.)
I’m sure that this environment of mediocrity exists in many other fields, and can be traced to many different proximate causes, but I can testify that it is alive and well in the Fine Art world. I know, I know….. at times the grind gets to all of us, and I’m not immune to the incessant enemy that is called Resistance (see blog titled "War of Art"). But I continually find my secret weapon can be brought to bear on the competition. Here’s the secret in a nutshell:
Start early, stay late and work your ass off!
This single ethic (by the way Pam is afflicted with this same trait) will serve you like no other.
I know I’m straying into the redundancy realm with many of you, but I can’t stress enough how important my repetition of this theme is. Too many artists wait for inspiration to strike, like some finger of the gods. While they sit idle, you, my friend, are seizing, enjoying and making use of.
Now go do it!
All content © Mark Kohler Studio.