How to Be an Artist
Updated: Aug 2, 2018
Being inspired by an interview with Rick Kinney, general manager and co-owner of The Clyde, for a Pique: Fort Wayne Arts and Culture blog post, I got reflecting on what it means to be an artist.
But more than that-I got thinking about all the STUFF that goes into this label of “being” an “artist.”
I LOVED online dating. OkCupid was my main go-to, but I tried out Match.com, too. I think I was too weird for Match. Before that, I liked to cruise MySpace and Facebook for flirts. One thing that absolutely drove me insane was when dudes would put in their profile that they were an artist, or tell me they were an artist, only to later learn this was used as a pick-up line.
So what does is really mean to BE an artist?
1. Give over your ENTIRE life to your craft.
Taking a page from Kinney’s book, being an artist means giving up absolutely everything to being an artist. I don’t mean you can’t have a day job or kids. Rather, everything in your life becomes an artform: parenting, cooking, creative note-taking during boring work meetings, etc. But, there is sacrifice. Maybe you don’t go to that party because you want to paint, or maybe you drop every last penny and ounce of energy you have into revitalizing a derelict theater.
2. Be prone to mental illness.
Suicide among creatives didn’t really become popular until the 20th century, but anxiety/depression has a long history with right-brained people. Take Albrecht Durer’s etching Melancholia, for example. Here we have an angelic-like person who is much too large for her wings for flight. She sits, looking despondent, waiting for inspiration to strike, while some dog-like creature withers at her feet.
3. Take it and give it.
That’s right. As an artist, it is your duty to call other people out (politicians, community leaders, business leaders, people who litter and kill baby seals, etc.). And believe me, they are going to do the same to you. It is sooo easy for others to criticize people (like you) who are putting everything on the line (like you, with your art). Grow a thick skin and realize you may not always be right and you might have to apologize. Better to ask forgiveness than permission (except in the bedroom).
4. Be a sounding board for the rest of humanity.
Not everyone has the talents you do. Not everyone is creative. Or reflective. Or capable of putting complex social ideas and making a pretty picture about it. This is your job, this is what you do. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and just do it!
5. Share yourself and your talents!
Before I had a kid of my own, I really didn't like kids. Annoying, smelly, loud. Don’t get me started! But they really are the magic that makes the universe go round. And hopefully they will be paying my social security check some day.
Giving yourself over to others is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Teaching has become my favorite way of sharing my craft. If teaching isn’t your thing, consider serving on an arts-oriented committee, volunteering at an arts organization like Wunderkammer, or use your art to advocate for others (politically, socially, etc. [think Banksy or Guerrilla Girls]).
Next, head over to Pique: Fort Wayne Arts and Culture and read the article about The Clyde and Kinney's journey!