Monday, December 26, 2011

A Real Job

This is my favorite piece. It is called The World As I See It. It is now in my private collection but it proves the point of this post better than any other piece I've made. Being an artist is a real job. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing better in the world then when someone looks at piece of work and they see the intention that was in your head when you created it. At that point it doesn't really matter whether they buy it or not.

I bring this piece to craft shows to show people what I am capable of, I thought of actually selling it but you just can't put a price on it. It took so many tiny little stitches and so much blood, sweat and tears(creative license I didn't literally bleed or sweat on it) I can't sell it.

It was started in 2007 during my first opportunity to be a working artist. I joined an artist coop that turned out not to be a very good fit for me and rejection can be a very depressing setback for an artist. So it was stopped probably three quarters of the way done and sat in a draw until last year after I became comfortable seeing myself as an artist. I had already worked on it for months and months and might I add I'm a pretty prolific embroiderer and I still had worked on it for months and months at that point. I would look at it every now and then wistfully, but until I was ready to sacrifice my self worth, my artistry and my soul it sat in a draw.

The next few years as an artist were very difficult as I catapulted myself from one medium to another hoping to catch that financial benefit that comes from being a successful artist. You can ask any of my artist friends how many tears I shed those few years. That being said there were definitely some sunny skies. I was lucky to meet my friend Cheryl who is an out of this world glass artist and very successful. She is my friend first, but she also happens to be my mentor of all things art related. Not only is she an out of this world glass artist but she is also very good business person, which frankly I'm not. She introduced me to Kathy at the Katbird Shop who liked my work and made me see it in a different way, she also sold my work. All of it, she rocks as a chooser of fine art and the clientele she finds or that find her to buy it. It allowed me to go out on that branch and have a safe place to fall without losing my soul or my sanity to do it.

Fast forward to 2010, which seems to be the year of the persistent artist. So many successes in so many venues after years and years of blood, sweat and tears. It could be because the general economy was so bad that people who lost their "real jobs" followed their hearts and dreams. Or perhaps people looked at art as the only true thing left in a world of fakery and deceit and decided art wasn't so not a real job after all.

The world as I see it saw the light of day and it came out of the drawer, it took a couple of months to finish it. I framed it in a crappy frame which is probably a godsend because it is also the most beautiful piece I have ever made and the frame doesn't really enhance it which to me makes it even more beautiful and easier to keep it myself since no matter what frame I put it in, it just doesn't fit. Boy that's a powerful metaphor isn't it?

I brought this piece to Valley Artisans Market to be juried and the rest is my version of a successful artist. Happy to be doing what I love and happy to be a more business oriented artist with a thicker skin. I love the essence of the building, the beautiful artistry of my fellow coop members. Every day I am there I have a moment of the best thing about being an artist from my first paragraph. Someone gets it, maybe they don't purchase it but they "get" it.

Everywhere all over the world there are artists, who even if they are successful, sacrifice time with their families and most especially their kids. They put their souls out on display for the chance that it will touch someone. They suffer abuse, bad reviews, insulting comments no matter how beautiful or heartfelt their work is,or for that matter how successful they are. I try to remember that myself whenever I hear a really crappy song or see a really crappy movie. I guess because the perks of an average bar band are better then the perks of being a hand embroidery artist, it's easy to forget how many hours go into any artistic endeavor and easy to understand why some people don't think of art as a real job. But that doesn't take into effect just how hard it is to be creative instead of getting a steady income and the respect that a good paying job entails. But in the end if Michaelangelo would have been a judge or Shakespeare would have been a plumber think how much the world would have lost.

So the moral of this story is the next time you buy an album and it doesn't really rock your boat, look at it as an investment in the next greatest hit. The next time you go to a craft show and see something you could make yourself but will never make, don't say it. There are hours and hours behind that one piece. Think of it in terms of your real job, you can have a bad day and maybe your boss hates you, but you have the stability of a paycheck. If you are an artist and you have an off day, it's everythihg.

By the way, this is not a knock on those who have "real" jobs. They allow the dreamers in all of us to follow our dreams and perhaps some day find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They are artists of their own making also, they just get paid better for it.

This piece is dedicated to my family, my artist friends, my non artist friends, my fellow artists and to dreamers everywhere who are ready to sacrifice anything to make art.

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