The Self-Reliant Artist
You are an artist and you love the idea of being in command of your life. You paint when you want to and rest when tired. Nobody makes you jump to their tune and if someone does not like your work - well tough. Self reliance can also be termed self-employed or freelancing. Hold on! Self-employed? that will not do. Being self-employed these days is just about another form of indenture to the customer or client. Self-reliance demands more.
It is one thing to buy a product from a shop and not be satisfied with it. You can buy another better product or go and complain to try and get your money back. Artists face other issues. A collector looks at a painting and decides. Matter over. Unless the artist is on shaky ground. An artist unsure of her place in the art world will carry insecurity wherever she goes. The danger of compromising increases until the artist is churning out what others demand. The art is gone and all that is left is a factory.
The self-reliant artist must create what resonates with the artist. Collectors will understand this.
The idea of self-reliance has been under pressure in the past five or so years. The world economy has been reduced to a basket case. We are told that we must sacrifice if we want to survive. Yes greed is no longer good and reckless spending has been legislated against. That is an improvement, but how to live? It is confusing to say the least. How does the artist fit into this mess and is there still a place for the self-reliant artist? Gallery or self-promotion or both? New directions and new art?
In times like these there are many experts selling invisible clothes to those desperate enough to buy. These are the experts trying to convince artists that their system will get them sales. Seven steps to healthy sales! Yes there are a few who do care and give good advice. There are others who claim to have the answer to increase sales and followers if you just will pull out your credit card and pay. Tempting? certainly is when your paintings gather dust or collectors resemble mirages on the horizon. It is easy to spend too much time online seeking answers in the cloud of connectivity. A place of shadows and empty promises if you hang your hopes on it.
In times like these it can be difficult to sleep let alone stump up for more art supplies.
These times are also an opportunity. It is the artist's opportunity to show character. Look within and reconnect to the purpose of your art. Why do you create? Is it for money or ego gratification? If you won the lotto would you stop painting every day or at all? The artist will declare emphatically - NO! I can add a few more colourful words too. No it is not about the money or business or compliments. So far we still eat and get by. We create and bide our time. Yes we also hustle and market on a shoestring using ingenuity when budget demands it. But when the sun rises each day we thank God that we can still use our bodies and minds to create something unique. Charlatans be damned! We carry on humbly and with the assurance that truth is attainable when we create from within.
We have our art and we make our own choices.
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa