Let me rephrase that, do you have what it takes to be a successful artist? That is a definition that is going to be different for many artists. I have my definition, what is yours?
This post is for artists, like me, it is also for those who love and collect art because there is a lot involved in creating a piece of art.
I was asking myself this when I was making my pot of coffee and thinking about the long night I had working and working on this endeavor and I have to be honest, I didn’t even paint last night.
Here is a list of things that came to mind, forgive me it could get quite long.
First of all you need skill-back in the day, if someone wanted to be an artist, he/she would go and live with an artist/teacher and would eat, drink and breathe art all day and night.
In this day and age with the internet, one can do the same as they eat their meals or drink their beverage of choice right behind the screen. (ME!)
Some go to school for years and then there are self-taught artists like myself. I spend my days and nights seeking out whatever information I can find to learn all the how-to’s from established artist’s around the world. I have a nice collection of books on famous artists and I study them all the time.
It takes a lot of practice and learn the skills necessary to create a work of art. I don’t remember where I saw this but I think it was on Twitter, someone asked an artist, “How long did it take you to create this piece?” The artist answered something like, “A few hours and 20+ years”. To the artist who wrote this, email me and I will offer the quote because it really stuck with me.
Okay back to the list, One needs knowledge. About what you may ask, “Just about everything under the sun” If you draw, paint or sculpt figurative work, you need a basic sense of anatomy. It makes me wonder where we might be had it not been for the contributions of artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, carving and cutting through cadavers (dead bodies to be dissected). There is so much to learn, you need to have some knowledge in math and measuring like if you paint from photos, you have to calculate the size of a small photograph as it would be on a much larger scale piece so it doesn’t look off balance or distorted. And they say that artists use only the right side of the brain? Right…
If your subject matter is flowers, some knowledge on botany is required. If you like abstracts, then a good knowledge of color theory, color psychology, form, space, composition is also necessary.
If you are a photographer, you will need to know how to use a camera with all it’s many functions and features. Post processing can be daunting for those not familiar with photo editing programs. I am talking about Photoshop or how to create HDR photos. The list is endless.
If you draw or are a painter, you need to know how to use the materials needed to create art. That includes, paints, brushes, pencils, charcoal, watercolors, pastels, oils, papers, canvases, the list can go on and on.
When I first started out drawing back in 2008, I used to get coupons to the arts and crafts store and I would use them to buy all different kinds of mediums. I didn’t even know what they were for or how to use them but I have a nice stock of supplies that my family don’t know what to get me for my birthday because they say “I have everything!”
What else? One needs patience, painting a piece of art can take time, waiting for it to sell can take even longer. If you are a photographer, post processing one image can take anywhere from thirty minutes to more to get that image just right. There are photographers who will get up super early in the morning to get that beautiful sunrise or travel to all distances to get that gorgeous shot. If you photograph people you know it takes patience. Try photographing a child who is too young to follow instruction and likes to wiggle after you pose them right when you are going to take that shot.
For the painter it could be several tries of drawing, painting and many thrown out pieces to get that one piece they are satisfied with.
In this age of technology and the internet, it makes it seem easier to put your art out into the public eye but don’t be fooled. There is work to do in order to just get seen. There is SEO, keywords to add, networking to do. You need to create titles that not only define the piece but is also searchable by Google and other search engines if you are going to be found in the large mass of other artists out there doing the same thing you are doing. So there is also some writing skills to have.
You must have thick skin. You must be open to criticism or even rejection because not every person will “get you” and your art.
You also need to know how to market your work, to find your niche, to know who your audience is and what they truly want.
You also need to have a commitment to your goals. Van Gogh is a good example having 900+ paintings behind him and having only sold one painting while he was alive. Vincent Van Gogh. He was committed.
You have to believe in your art to market it, if you don’t believe your art is good, how can you expect others to think differently?
I think I could spend all day here listing this and that for what it takes to be an artist but I have some painting to do. Thinking back on all this I realize that regardless of what it takes, I am up for the challenge. I know who I am and when I fall down, I just get right back up. Because at the end of the day, this is what I have to do. It is a drive, a passion that I can not ignore, it is so ingrained in me that come what may, I will spend all my living days creating art because it is something I just have to do.
I can’t explain it any other way. It is just a huge part of who I am. An Artist.
An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.
Charles Horton Cooley
My offering for today:
What do you think it takes to be an artist? Comments and discussion here is welcome!