Monday, September 6, 2010

Pick Your Art Friends Carefully

     Thanks for tuning in for my longhorn demonstration.  I hope those that foot-stepped along found the process a positive experience.  Today I want to cover one of life’s great lessons, and specifically apply it to artists.

     I just returned from a gallery opening in Santa Fe.  The gang at McLarry Fine Art are like family.  Thanks to Chris, John, Karen and Yasmin for hosting a great event.
     While enjoying some much-needed downtime, I had a chance to poke around some of the galleries on Canyon Road.  One of the interesting things I stumbled upon was a conversation between two artists outside of a rather popular gallery.  I sat on a bench and took mental notes on the topics being discussed.  The conversation started off positive enough, but within seconds it turned into a two-person rant of art negativity.
     I realize the economy has taken its’ pound of flesh from the art market, and the very nature of producing art takes its’ toll on each artist – if by no other means than having to put your efforts up for critique or criticism.  You need to face it:  it comes with the territory of selling your work.  But these two artists were feeding off each other’s negative attitudes.  I enjoyed the caustic banter for a few minutes, and then carried on with my gallery hopping.
     Later, I reflected on the conversation I had been privy to, and realized how blessed I am to count among my friends, the artists that I know.  These are friends who remain positive, even when things are tough, as they are now.
     “Misery loves company” is widely illustrated in the art world.   Many artists see their journey as baptism by fire, and choose to languish in the inferno.  They surround themselves with other artists who share their same philosophy on art.
     I first became aware of this phenomenon in art school.  Small groups of artists become connected by some like-minded trait, whether it is subject matter, media, or perceived common ground.  Call it what you will, but the illustrators were drawn to their clique, while expressionists were drawn to another group.  I witnessed first-hand, their proclivity to feed off each other’s negativity.  I proclaim that as we progress to becoming professionals, we must move to associate ourselves with professionals.
     The two artists I eavesdropped on in front of the gallery were full-time artists, but in my opinion, they weren’t professionals.   This was displayed by the location they chose to perform their public rant and their disrespect for the gallery owners.  The public doesn’t want to listen to two artists whining about their perceived hardships, in front of their own gallery!
     So what to do?  It’s simple.  Look for positive peers.  You can choose whom to be around in every aspect of your life.  You can choose peers who want you to jump off the artistic bridge that your mother so often warned you of…or, you can pick like-minded and professional art friends who boost and encourage your attitude and career. 
     My criteria for “art friends” are those positive peers who want to discuss aspects of the art profession and improve their craft.

     I have some art friends that enjoy talking about marketing, and others who prefer discussing subject matter, and still others who prefer to discuss the lifestyle of being an artist.  The thing they all have in common is that they are generally positive and seek a greater understanding of this journey.  When we feel ourselves sliding, we can count on each other to re-direct our thinking.
     There is much adversity that comes with showing your art.  You must endure rejection and pay your dues.   There is no shortcut around paying your dues and executing the hard work.  However, choosing whom to take this journey with is your decision.  Make it wisely.  And if you don’t have an art friend who sees things in a positive light, start with me. 

1 comment:

  1. Mark, As we were reading this post, it occurred to me that this is great advice for all of us who call ourselves professionals in our respective career fields. Especially during these economic times we appreciate your reminder that we have choices as to how we participate, either positive or negative. Love your thoughts about this.
    Mom and Dad