Do you ever feel like you are running the race of life and never quite making it to the finish line or worse. You're always behind. Everyone is working a 'real' job or is getting engaged, married, having babies or buying there first house.
Are you sick of people asking you the following?:
"So what are you going to do after you finish your art degree?"
"The creative industry is hard to get into."
"I thought painting was just your hobby?"
"Your parents must be worried that you won't get a proper job."
If I got a quid for every time someone said one of those statements I would be able to buy a boat load of oil paints. Which if you hadn't gathered, cost a lot of money.
I get asked these statement a lot and its hard to answer. I usually get asked by family, friends or when I was working, customers who most of them pulled a face of disappointment when I told them I was handing in my notice to study art in Cumbria.
It's hard to explain why I want to be an artist. Why I don't want to teach, or be a midwife like my friend or work in an office or any job that offers security and a steady pay. But here's the thing. I've wanted, scratch that, I've dreamt of being an artist, a creative since I was four-years old. I guess you could say I was drawing before I could walk. I was the kid that spent every single golden time at the art section. The powder paints where I painted the most awful things where my mum would be like, "wow..... what is it?". But I didn't care that they weren't on the level of Van Gogh because I enjoyed it, I loved the freedom of creating something that I envisioned.
There is something magical about creating something from your mind, the process in which a piece goes through. How a single pencil can create a portrait, a landscape, anything that your mind desires.
My primary school teachers encouraged me, my secondary school art teachers pushed me, taught me new techniques and helped me through my periods of depression and anxiety, they gave me the courage to better myself and follow what I wanted to do.
My art girls from secondary came to foundation with me
which was taught my men, men who crushed my spirit and told me that portraiture was dated, that no one was interested in portraits as you can just take a photo. Told me that my subjects were boring, that I wouldn't make it in uni, that I wasn't a fine artist but an illustrator. I hated that year but I pushed through, remembering why I love painting, portraiture and mixed media. Why I was painting.
It made me question everything, whether having a career in art was achievable, whether it was worth the student loans, if in actual fact, I should be down at the job centre getting a steady job like everyone else.
Self-doubt is an awful thing, and is something every creative goes through. It plagues your mind and makes you question every single decision you make. I began to take less risks in my art work, sticking to what was comfortable. Which is crazy as the foundation course is a chance for you as a creative to try a variety of forms so you have an idea of what kind of art course you want to do.
I have met the most extraordinary people at uni, people who don't kick you down, but build you up, encourage and offer insight into your working practice. The tutors help push you towards your goal, your dream and don't laugh when you say something absurd.
So what have I learnt from my education?
I've learnt that you don't need an excuse to do what you want to do, I mean if you have one, great.
You see, creatives do what they do not because they want to be skint, they do it because they love it, they love how it feels to be creative to have people look at your work and make them feel something, them to comment on your work.
I've learnt that you don't need to follow someone's advice because that's what they would do. There is no plan on how to create except instinct and what feels right, what challenges you and drives you.
Block out the opinion of your work being 'crap' it isn't exactly constructive advice but just plain mean. You should create what you love, the only opinion that matters is yours.
With that in mind, not everyone will love what you create that's just a fact, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't create, it's just a matter of what people prefer.
One of my tutors told me to just create. Just fucking create, if it's shit you learn something, if it's a success, you learn something.
Art is learning, I will never be a master at art, I'll always be learning. I may graduate sure, I may become a success like Jenny Saville or Alison Watt with work up in Tate or I may just be an artist who paints from commission to commission, selling prints, working part time jobs to make ends meet, my name not heard by many.
The thing is though, to me that doesn't matter, I may not know where I'll end up but as long as I'm creating, doing the thing I love then I couldn't care less. I just want to create for as long as I am able.
I may not have a knowledge of an intelligent academic (although I can tell you shitloads about democracy and Nazism in Germany between 1918-1945 as well as Tudor history oh and the Civil Rights movement between 1862-1965 A-Level history for you.) I may not have a successful career, but I as a create I am learning a language, a language of understanding and insight into a world of creativity and the respect of art itself, the hours, the stress and sheer determination to finish a piece to your satisfaction is rare.
I once emailed Iris Scott who is a finger painting oil painter who creates the most amazing pieces of work, like you should check them out. She told me to keep creating and as a female artist, its hard but so rewarding, that if I want to have a career, that I needed to start off small, only charge what I need to cover rent, food, bills and slowly build up my work.
That's another thing about creatives, Iris Scott didn't have to email me back, she could of just ignored me, except she helped me with my essay and offered me some honest advice.
Creatives help each other, I have seen that in my class and through book blogging, the community of creatives is full of people helping each other out, offering advice, support and courage to keep you going. I guess you could say that kindness goes a long way, it costs nothing to be kind, to help someone out.
Even if it's just a share of your post of work, or a comment, or a read, that little bit of support goes a long way for creatives, it makes them realise that there work is making an impact, even if its small.
So why do I want to be an artist?
Because I honestly, cannot imagine doing anything else.
I was born to create and that is what I shall do.
The road may be long, hard and tricky, but I bet the sunset at the end is worth it.
Moreover, creativity is a 'proper' job. It may not be profitable, but it has an impact, it helps, it shapes and it makes this world which can be very black and white, even more colourful. We as creatives are responsible to make this world colourful and to break the chain of expectations, expectations from people who look down on creativity and see it as nothing more than just 'fluff'. See us as nothing more than weird and strange. Yet again, I'd much rather be weird and creative than living a life thats not for me.
Art, writing, creativity is a job. Period.
So, here's to the creatives out there.
Thank you, and keep doing what you love, you make a difference and for many people, you make this world a better place with your writing, books, art, film, tv, youtube, blogs etc....
Till next time,