A: It’s true that there are more opportunities now for women artists. Indeed, there are more opportunities for ALL artists. Social media has helped immensely in that it allows artists to take charge of our own careers, making us less dependent on the approval, largesse, and/or validation of art world gatekeepers.
However, at the highest levels of our profession, there are many inequities. As more women become art museum directors, collectors of contemporary art, and leaders whose taste matters, the status of all female artists is bound to improve to become more aligned with that of males.
Comments are welcome!
A: Recently I answered a question about why I create, but now that I think about it, the same answer applies to what I want to do as an artist in the future:
~ to create bold and vibrant pastel paintings and photographs that have never existed before
~ to continue to push my primary medium – soft pastel on sandpaper – as far as I can and to use it in more innovative ways
~ to create opportunities for artistic dialogue with people who understand and value the work to which I am devoting my life
The last has always been the toughest. I sometimes think of myself as Sisyphus because expanding the audience for my art is an ongoing uphill battle. Many artist friends tell me they feel the same way about building their audience. It’s one of the most difficult tasks that we have to do as artists. I heard Annie Leibovitz interviewed on the radio once and remember her saying that after 40 years as a photographer, everything just gets richer. Notice that she didn’t say it gets any easier; she said, “it just gets richer.” I have been a painter for nearly 30 years and a photographer for 11. I agree completely. All artists have to go wherever our work goes. Creating art and watching the process evolve is an endlessly fascinating intellectual journey. I wouldn’t want to be spending my time on earth doing anything else!
Comments are welcome!
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Q: To be a professional visual artist is to have two full-time jobs because an artist must continually balance the creative and the business sides of things. How do you manage to be so productive?
A: With social media and other new ways of doing business, managing it all is getting more difficult every day. Bear in mind that I say this as someone who does not have the extra time commitment of a day job, nor do I have children or other family members to care for. I have no idea how other visual artists, who may have these responsibilities and more, keep up with all the tasks that need to be done. In The Artist’s Guide: How to Make A Living Doing What You Love, Jackie Battenfield lists a few of them (believe me, there are others):
…being an artist isn’t just about making art. You have many other responsibilities – managing a studio, looking for opportunities, identifying an audience for your work, caring for and protecting what you have created, and securing money, time, and space – in addition to whatever is happening in your personal life.
To begin with I try to maintain regular studio hours. I generally work on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and once I’m at the studio I stay there for a minimum of 7 hours. To paint I need daylight so in the spring and summer my work day tends to be longer. My pastel-on-sandpaper paintings are extremely labor-intensive. I need to put in sufficient hours in order to accomplish anything. When I was younger I used to work in my studio 6 days a week, 9 hours or more a day. I have more commitments now, and can no longer work 60+ hours a week, but I still try to stick to a schedule. And once I’m at the studio I concentrate on doing the creative work, period.
I am productive when I keep the business and creative sides physically separate., ie., no computers, iPads, etc. are allowed into the studio. Recently I tried an experiment. I brought my iPad to the studio, thinking, “Surely I am disciplined enough to use it only during my lunch break.” But no, I wasted so much time checking email, responding to messages on Facebook, etc., when I should have been focusing on solving problems with the painting that was on my easel. I learned a good lesson that day and won’t bring my iPad to the studio again.
As has long been my practice, I concentrate on business tasks when I get home in the evening and on my, so called, days off. After a day spent working in the studio, I generally spend a minimum of two to three hours more to answer email, apply for exhibitions, work on my blog, email images to people who need them, etc. At present I have part-time help with social media – the talented Barbra Drizin, of Start from Scratch Social Media – although my time commitment there is growing, too, as more details need my attention.
No one ever said it would be easy being a professional artist, but then again, I would not choose to spend my days any other way. As I often say, “Being an artist is a calling. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT a life for wimps… or slackers.”
Comments are welcome!
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