A candid look at what happened after graduation from the safety of art school.
As an art school graduate I was at one point part of the artworks system – albeit at undergraduate level. In wondrous naivety I used to think being an artist was realistically a mixture of producing work – in my case drawings, exhibiting and selling if lucky and the opportunity to schmooze with other people involved in the art world (with a probable dose of poverty and unrelated work thrown in for good measure. Very nice – maybe a reality for some?
My reality and what course I was and am on…
* Graduate and continue to work, albeit on a diminished scale and level of ambition.
* Life gets in the way and studio mentality, artistic work ethic slowly erodes to thoughts only and good intentions.
* Long periods of static inactivity ensue (artistically speaking).
* Waves of guilt follow and the thought of what could have been plague my thoughts and torment me at every turn. Resentment and self loathing set in as feelings of being cheated out of my lifelong passion – by myself.
* Sporadic and unambitious work begins in front of the TV as a way to occupy my free time.
* Long period of inactivity.
* Can no longer ward off feelings of guilt and failure with the added sense that my beloved degree years have amounted to nothing – intensified by a deeply unfulfilling job. (I will include the caveat that I have always been lucky and looked after in my 9-5 job working with mostly decent people).
* Tentatively begin to work again in the knowledge that I need to somehow climb the mountain to rebuild some kind of practice and work with a more ambitious set of outcomes. Not easy around a busy family and work life.
* Establish regular practice and discipline to work – lifelong passion reignites in a big way.
* Think long and hard about my approach to my situation and why I am in it. Take a long hard look at myself, urrgghh – and realise I can only even begin to dream of making this work if I am prepared to work – really work and stop living in a fantasy land in which I have managed to blame everything I have not achieved on outside circumstances and powers I cannot control.
* Slowly begin to work on slightly more ambitious pieces – realising that for me raising the bar is like a canal lock – it must be done slowly to maintain integrity.
* Establish an actual studio and see work develop at a pace that rivals the degree development (in my book a period in an artist life where things change with intense rapidity before settling into a stride)
* I’m now in a position where I have a modest studio, a website and made several sales along with the confidence to apply to exhibit work. Whilst I can hardly call myself a success where my art is concerned – for me and my journey I am moving in the right direction.
After that digression I now consider myself to be an artworks outsider – I basically have no art world connections and no real interactions with other artists, I am for all intents and purposes making my work alone, but you know what? I’m completely okay with that right now. I am working hard and constantly making work I am proud of. That to me is the most important thing – the constant and ever changing love of art.
Thanks as always for reading.