MY LATEST BLOG POST

SEPTEMBER 2018

WHAT ARTISTS ARE NOT!

5 ARTIST MYTHS UNRAVELED

There are many misconceptions about being an artist. Myths reinforced by both the world we live in and sadly artists themselves. Here are 5 of these myths I would like to unravel.

 

1. ARTISTS ARE ALWAYS POOR AND HAVE TO SUFFER TO MAKE GOOD ART

 

This is probably reason number 1 why parents advice their kids not to study art. They have seen bad examples of artists struggling financially or living in poor conditions as a result of pursuing their art.

 

But this need not be…

The passion we have for our craft needs to be supported by a good well thought plan.  Many artists I have spoken to feel that I plan and structure is stifling and suffocates their creativity. But the reverse is true.

 

A plan and structure will give you a firm basis to grow and express your creativity while generating a healthy income. Making a plan will challenge you to make hard choices and even make concessions but it will give you the freedom you need.

 

I have often wondered why they did not teach me economics or writing a good business plan at the art academy. Luckily this is changing in many schools and there are recourses and courses available.

 

2. ARTISTS ARE GENERALLY UNHAPPY, UNHEALTHY AND UNHEARD

 

A few weeks ago I met an artist at an exhibition where we were both exhibiting our art.  I could see he was struggling. He looked as if he had not slept in weeks and later I heard that he was living on instant soup in order to have money to buy paint. His paintings are truly beautiful, expressing life, love and hope. I can’t imagine the torment in his artist heart. Having the ability to express such beauty while he lived in such despair.

 

Thousands of artists experience this. They feel that in their torment they can create. Almost like a hero status we are willing to give it all up for our art. I believe that when we are successful in life we are truly successful in our art. Not only will your audience be touched but also you will live a happier, healthier and fulfilled life. Find help, develop meaningful friendships and take care of yourself.

 

3. ARTISTS CONDEMNED TO A LIFE OF LONELINESS AND ARE APPLAUDED FOR IT

 

As artists we need to be alone in order to create. Whether this is in a literal sense or a place we go to in our mind or imagination. I love spending hours in my studio dreaming and creating. But this is different than loneliness. Loneliness can be such a terrible is a companion.

 

We are not created to live isolated from others but we need healthy, lasting relationships. This is true especially artists.

 

When you overcome the fear of rejection, standing in the strength of your vulnerability will not only liberate your artist heart but also touch the hearts around you.

 

I could never really paint when other people were around. I was too afraid of the frowns or disapprovals that I withdrew into my own space and would paint or design until it was perfect.  I have since learnt that I actually need people around during my creative process and now I often go into public spaces to draw or paint.

 

I discovered that the opinions of people might hurt but hey are not fatal and that I will never be to everybody’s liking.  Learning to connect with your audience and developing a fascination with your followers and turning this into a fuel for your next piece can be very exhilarating. Making your more about others than only about yourself.

 

Outside my studio I find a different energy to create and I have met so many inspiring people who were touched by what I was doing.  I don’t want to be the hero of my own loneliness. I was born to create and bring life and I cannot do this by myself.

 

4. BEING AN ARTISTS IS NOT A ‘REAL JOB’ AND HAS NO RELEVANCY

 

I have heard this so many times. ‘When are you going to get a real job?’

Depending on where you live in the world, this might ring true for you.  For me it was more that I had to adjust my own perception. I had to start to take myself seriously. I had to own my talents, develop gifts and turn them into a viable source of income. Sounds like a ‘real job’ to me.

 

Fortunately I believe art and being an artist is a serious profession and adds real value to our culture. I am pleased that art and artists are getting more and more recognition and appreciation through social media and other platforms.

 

The stories of artists studio’s and process behind created works are getting greater exposure. I once read a Forbes study of the 10 most wealthy and influential people of our time. I forget the exact number, but a large percentage of the people on that list were artists, musicians or those working in the creative industry.

 

5. ARTISTS CANNOT BE ENTREPRENEURS OR WORK FOR PROFIT

 

This is a huge myth that I need to address. Many artists I know shudder at the word entrepreneurship and distance themselves from the idea of being money and success driven. We need to redefine the word Entrepreneur. It is a French word that originates from the 13 century and means “somebody that undertakes”. Later the word developed into somebody that ‘undertakes business’. I am an advocate of a different train of thought. Instead of seeing an entrepreneur as somebody chasing profit and bottom lines I see entrepreneurs as system builders.

 

Is it possible for artists to take the ideas and expressions we have and translate it into a system? Making viable plans to join the dots resources and people and create value whether this is commercial, solve a problem or make something better?

 

It is possible and there are more and more examples of artists that have found or develop systems that generate profit while spreading a whole bunch of love.

 

In my next post I will share more thoughts about systems that add value to art and artists and share some insights into the success of the Dutch Masters of the 16th century and what we can learn from them today!

 

 

 

 

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    SONJA SMALHEER

    Artist, Designer & Educator

    Sonja Smalheer is a passionate artist, designer and educator. She believes that art and artists play a vital role in any healthy society. She is the author of a regular blog empowering artists to flourish.