Category Archives: struggle

Searching for the Opportunity

These days I am searching for the right opportunity, the next step in my career as an artist, a move up the ladder to not just creating art on the side while trying to make a living doing something else, but finding a way to combine the two: art and work. Work and life.

The challenge is, it’s easier said than done. I am seeking out the opportunities, and I have a list of things I’m working on applying for. But the prospect of whether any of these opportunities will follow through is still up in the air. When will I get that one BIG SHOT? Or the many smaller shots that eventually lead to something bigger? And if I do get to that bigger place…. what does it look like? What exactly am I striving for, anyway?

When it comes down to it, to the bare essentials, there are four things that I need to make a living as an artist:

CREATIVITY
Print

SPACE
image640x480

TIME
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

MONEY
Money1

It’s really not a lot to ask. And of course there are more things than just the items listed above, such as friends, family, my sweet dog, a nearby park to run in, some space to do yoga, a fun place to go and see art/music/performance/film, inspiring collaborators, community, students who are eager to learn, and last but not least, OPPORTUNITIES. MORE OPPORTUNITIES. There are so many of them out there, but there are also so many people trying to get them. I’m trying so hard to get that next opportunity. The next thing, whatever it may be, that will lead me closer to my career path as an artist.

Image Sources:
Why Its OK to Fail at Kickstarter
Design Thinking: creativity in business and education
Temp Art Exhibit
There is Always Enough Time

HOW TO FAIL AS AN ARTIST.

Hello friends!! I’m back at last. Life has had its ups and downs recently, as it always does. Since my last post, I finished my graduate thesis show, graduated from grad school with an MFA in Studio Art, and started working full-time at the university. It’s been a whirlwind, to say the least.

I know that I said I’d post a whole big thing about my graduate thesis show, but I’m lazy now. I’m sorry. I did, however, post it all on the film’s website: www.redblobmassacre.com. Check out the Premiere Photos to see images from the event. It was AMAZING!!! It was worth the hard work. I’ll be doing it again in October, 2012 at River Gallery Fine Art in Chelsea, MI: http://www.chelsearivergallery.com/ . A completely different venue than the premiere, but an equally awesome challenge and opportunity!!

Now. The real reason for this post. Duh duh duhhhh…..

HOW TO FAIL AS AN ARTIST.

Now that I’ve graduated from grad school with the masterfully revered MASTERS OF FINE ARTS, the big question is… will I ever make a LIVING as an ARTIST????!!!

Most MFA graduates go on to sustain themselves as Professors, or in other jobs that may or may not be creative in some way. Few of them go on to be the art millionaires whose successes equal those of Damien Hurst and Marina Abromovic. Many who do, are blessed with family funds that sustain their practice and free them from the constraints of having to have another job to survive until they make it big.

As I face the hump of 40 hours a week in my current future, there are obstacles that will keep me from being the free artist that most people envision successful artists to be. But then again, without a job, I wouldn’t have an income to purchase the supplies I need, to sustain my mental wellbeing of health and relative security that may in the long run contribute to my practice as an artist.

My fear, of course, is that from this point on, my career as an artist will FAIL. I will NEVER be an artist again. Goodbye art school, goodbye art practice. Goodbye time. Goodbye inspiration…

In ode to my own fears, I have created a list of ways that I probably could FAIL as an ARTIST. Here they are:

1) Give up before you start again.

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2) Never have the time:

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3) Doubt your ability to make art:

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4) Have too many bills to pay:

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5) Allow your JOB to take over your LIFE:

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6) Run out of IDEAS:

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7) Run out of opportunities:

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8) Have 10 kids:

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9) Decide/realize that art is pointless:

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Phew! I feel better now. When I look back at the list, I admit that there are probably many more ways to FAIL as an artist. But I also see the list and think… well, that’s pretty stupid. I mean, it’s stupid to even fear those things. Because yes, all of them are threats to continuing a life as an artist. But they are also all things that are universal, not shared just by artists, but by everyone who exists each day as a whole. I think it’s okay to experience all of those things at some point in time (although I’m not sure about having 10 kids), but as long as it’s not an ALL THE TIME kind of thing, it should be okay. If the artist suffers just as the rest of the world does, it’s probably better than living in the privileged artist bubble that is completely removed and oblivious to the real world.

I will work my job, and I will enjoy it. I will continue to make art, and enjoy that too. I will have my ups and downs, but I will keep on making. I don’t know what I will make, but that’s okay. It’s good not to know. Perhaps it will be something incredible.

And lastly, I’d just like to say that sometimes FAILURE is not so bad. Failing at something, as long as you try again, is sometimes better than being successful right from the beginning.

Image Sources:

http://charleneburke.com/2011/10/ready-to-give-up-50-things-you-should-give-up-starting-today/ (Ready to Give Up- 50 Things you should give up starting today)

http://thewordthoughtsblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/time.html (Time)

http://katerawlings.com/2012/01/11/self-doubt-youre-not-alone/ (Self Doubt? You’re not alone)

http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/File:Bills.gif (Bills)

http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/t/time_slave.asp (Time Slave Cartoon)

http://laurencehunt.blogspot.com/2011/04/its-duh-kind-of-day-in-gold-stocks.html (It’s a duh kind of day in gold stocks)

http://www.extracriticum.com/extra_criticum/2012/01/accentuate-the-positive.html (Cartoon: Accentuate the Positive)

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3749964/Mum-on-30k-a-year-in-benefits-seeks-charity-aid.html (10 kids with 4 different men)

http://www.destructoid.com/about-the-art-debate-please-shut-the-f-k-up-226826.phtml (About the ‘art’ debate: Please shut the f**k up)

http://www.destructoid.com/about-the-art-debate-please-shut-the-f-k-up-226826.phtml (Smile Saturday)

Death, hibernation, rebirth and growth

I’ve been meaning to write a post about death for the last couple of days. It just seems that death is everywhere right now. October, is all about death. Which is a good thing to put attention to once in a while, you know? A little ODE to DEATH. A little hello, how are you. A little acknowledgement that- oh yeah, death exists. Everywhere, all the time. Just as life exists, death exists too. And in October in particular this year, it seems to be significantly present.

First and foremost is the way the leaves on all the trees are dying. This is the time when free-spirtited, sunny, hot summer transitions to cold, intense, icy winter. Here are a few recent photos of the trees and dying leaves around my neighborhood:

The amazing thing about this time of year is that even though everything seems to be dying, it’s incredibly beautiful. There’s a change taking place in the environment that is not only visible externally, but also felt internally. I know that this time of year can be hard for a lot of people. It certainly has been for me- a lot of questioning, inner turmoil and struggle taking place. And yet… it seems like it’s a good thing, despite the fact that in moments it can be very challenging. Even though it’s just the beginning of a long, SNOWY winter. BUT- and there is a but- there is always rebirth on the other side. All those leaves will bloom again, things will grow back fresh and new, and we will appreciate it all once more as if discovering it for the first time. And that’s what I appreciate about changing seasons- it’s an opportunity to get in touch with a cycle within our own selves that reflects the environment around us- a cycle of death, hibernation, rebirth, and growth.

Other things about death this month- well obviously Halloween. It’s like suddenly everyone is obsessed with the morbid. Part of Halloween is about dressing up in something completely out of the ordinary, while the other part is about celebrating the imminent death that lurks behind every corner. Our own little ZOMBIE world. As a tribute, I’ve found a lovely zombie animation from vimeo:

zombie! by animation block

And then, of course, we can’t ignore the recent death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Obviously, this is a huge victory for the people of Libya who for 42 years suffered under a man who “warped his country with his idiosyncratic vision of autocratic rule.” (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/oct/20/gadhafi-was-a-brutal-unpredictable-leader-killed-b/ Washington Times). I am very happy for this new (and surely challenging) phase in Libya’s history post-Gadhafi. And yet- is any death a celebration? There’s nothing wrong with fictionalized zombie movies and the imagination of horror, but when the real thing is played over and over on the television screen, no matter how important it is for so many people, there is an element of disturbance that goes with it. What if Gadhafi had lived, and had to pay for his atrocities in another way? Would not that have perhaps been even better? In the same way that the death of Osama Bin Laden was celebrated this past May, there is something fundamentally wrong with celebrating any person’s death, no matter how atrocious they were. I can’t say what is right or wrong in this situation, and I don’t in any way want to undermine the importance to the Libyan people in this moment of rebirth from a very long and dark period in their history. But… I wish there was another way to heal wounds besides death in this situation- it just seems like a never ending cycle.

In the end, it all comes  back to that cycle I described in the beginning of this post. A continuous cycle of death, hibernation, rebirth and growth. Internally, externally, and for people and communities all over the world. We can only hope for the best in every situation, and remember that death, in its essence, is meant to remind us of our own precious lives, and to be thankful for them. Perhaps the best death there is is the imagined death- the death that becomes a means of artistic exploration and acknowledges with a light heart that in the very end, despite everything, we’re all going to die.

When in Doubt, EXERCISE.

Since we’ve been on the topic of self-doubt and artistic struggle for the past couple of weeks, I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce you to the crazy (and artistic) world of fitness.

When I feel like crap about myself and the work that I’m creating, I exercise.

In the act of focusing on the movement of my own body, I’m able to let go, at least for the moment, of whatever it is that’s dragging me down into the dumps.

Not surprisingly, it’s often when I’m on a run in the park with my dog or swimming laps at the gym that the most profound artistic ideas dawn on me.

Not only does exercise give your bothersome, negative thoughts a breather, but it also makes you feel good about yourself.

Exercise = Wellbeing = Totally Awesome Art.

Or, in the least, it offers you a chance to come back to whatever it is you’re working on with a fresh point of view, PLUS sport killer abs in the locker room.

***Want to check out some awesome, weird fitness videos? Check out my Manic Fitness blob: I’ve been collecting them! : http://manicfitness.blogspot.com/ ***

LINKS:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-536/Jane-Fonda-Launching-World-Fitness-Day.html (Mind Body Green)

http://factoidz.com/american-womens-fashion-trends-and-times-by-decade-part-3-70s-80s-90s-and-now/ ( American Women’s Fashion Trends and Times by Decade, Part 3 – 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and Now)

http://dpifitness.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/inspirationa-or-fitness-expert/ (Divine Proportion Inc)

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2009/05/seniors_enjoy_fitness_day_at_t.html (Seniors enjoy fitness day at Tanglewood)

http://sexymalebodybuilder.blogspot.com/ (Armon Adibi Top National Competitive Bodybuilder)

The Art of BEING A CHILD AGAIN!!

Children make me happy. And they remind me that I once was a child too. Once, before I transmogrified into this adult body which I find myself in now…

I made some of my most amazing artistic discoveries as a child. I loved art because it gave me the opportunity to express myself in a way that nothing else did. Through art, I could let my imagination run free.

Children’s art is amazing because through their eyes we rediscover the world again for the first time. Because we once drew those pictures, too. Even if we’re no longer artists.

All children are artists.

And their artwork, while not always beautiful, is honest: coming straight from the heart. With a little bit of encouragement, children make art without barriers, without being shaped by others’ opinions, without doubting their own ability to make art in the first place.. They just MAKE ART. They just make it. And then they put it up on the wall for the world to see, proud of what they did.

Adult artists struggle to recreate playfulness in their work all the time; to be free to express is not so easy when you’re an adult.

STRUGGLE. The definition of struggle in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: to make strenuous or violent efforts in the face of difficulties or opposition; to proceed with difficulty or with great effort..

When you get in a room full of children making art, their ideas are endless. They have the idea, and they go with it. They are less concerned with the product of their artistic endeavors, and more with the physical action of hitting the brush to the page, of gluing the yarn, of blending the colors, of telling the story…

Is it the development of artistic technique that kills the essence of our work as adult artists? Or is it society that shapes us to slowly lose our childhood touch?

Perhaps it is a combination of both.

No matter where we are as artists (with or without technique), we can’t forget that ART is about PLAY. It really is. It’s not about struggling to make a painstaking diagram that maps the future of humankind. It’s about expressing what we see, in a different way, and sharing it. And it can be FUN. ART can be FUN. That’s a mantra I have to say over and over again to myself. Not just that art CAN be fun, but that art IS fun. ART is FUN. It feels good to say it. ART is FUN. ART is FUN. ART is FUN. ART is FUN. ART is FUN. ART is FUN. Isn’t that what you thought as a child? ART is FUN. ART is FUN. ART is FUN. ART is FUN. ART is FUN. ART is FUN!


LINKS:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/struggle (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

http://fort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com/tag/the-fridge/page/3/ (The Fridge)

http://www.mama.org/caa/gallery/ (Museum of Ancient and Modern Art)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/78392448@N00/54641857/ (Marc Portier’s Photostream)

http://modernfolklorists.wordpress.com/category/child-artraw-art/page/3/ (The File Cabinet of Curiosities)

http://www.funkorchildart.com/ChildrenArt.php (Funkor Child Art Center)

The Art of Self Doubt

Every person has their ups and downs. Every artist has her ups and downs too. Yesterday I was up, today I am down. Perhaps tomorrow I will be up again. Nothing is perfect. Every project is always growing and changing. For the past several weeks since I’ve been back in grad school, with this being my last year and my big thesis project looming up in the near future, it’s as if I’ve been on a rollercoaster of new artistic ideas that both excite me and at the same time couldn’t be more terrifying. One day I think I know exactly what I’m going to do, and the next day it’s all up in the air again. I do already have certain elements that I know I want to explore, and am already exploring, but how I want to execute it and the medium(s) that I choose to work with are still in questioning. Yesterday over an amazing pancake breakfast, I wrote nonstop for over two hours what I thought would be the first draft of the film I am (or was) going to make for my thesis. It was invigorating. The words just flowed out of me. They needed to sit on that page. And I felt great about it.. until I went back and read the script in the evening. The second time around, it didn’t seem as exciting as the first. In fact, it seemed so short and simple, not at all what I was really going for….. Today.. well, today I’m torn in between. In a lot of ways there are many elements within what I wrote that excite me. Certainly some new ideas came up from my inspired pancake writings. However, perhaps it is also okay to decide that even though it was inspiring in the moment, and I needed to get those ideas out, I don’t have to stick with the script that I created at all. I can let it go. And go back to the drawing board. And think again. And reassemble. And think again. And doubt again. And then feel inspired and confident again. And perhaps, eventually, string all the ideas that really hit home together and make something out of them. It’s an ongoing process. And it’s not always easy. But that’s a part of art making. Art making is not one continuous inspiration. It can also be hell sometimes. But maybe it’s the struggle that in the end creates the most meaningful work. Because you have to really think about it. You have to doubt in order to believe again.

Photo credit:

http://www.utopia-britannica.org.uk/pages/New%20Harmony.htm