While in art school I wanted to be a college art teacher. Life path and ambition took me in an apparent other direction. Still I always loved the exchanges in advanced painting classes at UC Berkeley where students would put their work up and we - students and teachers - would all analyze it, the infamous‘crit’ (for those that didn’t go to art school, that stands for critique). These were known to be brutally honest and thoughtful dialogues, to the point where everything was examined with scrutiny, like subject treatment scale texture psychological meaning relevance, and so on. Some found these quite disruptive and painful, others gained insight, sometimes both. I loved and thrived in that environment, and took for granted that when I got my MFA I would find employment in kind. Well, mostly you can only take for granted breathing and getting hungry every day, and sometimes not even the latter.
My career trajectory has gone like this: temping on wall street - carpentry - selling paintings - designing and selling streetwear and skateboards - selling paintings - designing websites / working for dot coms - selling paintings - designing clothing / websites - selling paintings. What can be gleaned from this?
I got a facial, the first of my life, a few weeks ago, one of those up to the moment facial treatments where it’s actually quite psychologically probing - for real - and I came out of it like having taken a tropical vacation that was cut in half, and I was depressed and just felt I’ve been going in the wrong direction, and even if making a career as an artist has been extremely difficult, I needed to get back on my path, get grounded and align myself, I needed to work in the arena of the art world, even if it is one of my own creating. As there are many art worlds, but the only clear way to make a living as an artist without teaching is to get famous. The cliche is true. Absorbing the American myth is true. Who would think the purist goals of an artist could be tarnished by such crass desires? Yet, most artists feel entitled and expect to become famous. Such is the nature of an artist’s inner voice so profound is their connection to their process. Ego / entitlement, it doesn’t matter, for when the work is done it will have a life of it’s own. Although the artist’s promotion skills can have a lot to do with that life, whether it sits in the studio gathering dust or is allowed to see the light of day. The tireless promoter hat is another accessory an artist must wear.