As an active artist, a quote from Jessica Hagedom’s short story, “The Blossoming of Bongbong” resonates with me: “I don’t understand anything. Everyone is an artist, but I don’t see them doing anything.” True artists are passionate, diligent, and determined. In order to be happy and well-adjusted (or as happy and well-adjusted as any artist can be), they must perform their art. Yet there are so many people who call themselves artists when they are really just infatuated with society’s romanticized image of the artist. Stop pretending. Stop using your fabricated career title as an “artist” as an excuse to be lazy, sleep around, and smoke pot all the time. Being an artist means caring so much about your art form that you constantly strive to perfect it. Here are four key points all artists should remember in their quest for becoming well-rounded:
*Explore and experiment—true artists put these two words into practice. Work at your art form every single day, no exceptions. Develop a strict schedule if that’s what you need in order to stay disciplined. Do not wait for inspiration to strike; seize any idea floating through your mind, even if it’s not as “brilliant” as what you had hoped. Artist’s or Writer’s Block does not exist. It is a figment of your imagination, just like the numerous other figments running around your brain that would make excellent art.
*Do not confine yourself to your art form, either. Dabble in other art forms, as well, if only for short periods of time. Drawing. Photography. Sculpture. Fashion design. Printmaking. Film. Make-up. Painting. Writing. Singing. Dance. Instrumental music. Acting. Modeling. Graphic design. Take a one-hour class at a community center or community college in an art form you have never tried before. If you’re not intent on trying out a specific art form, read up on its history and theory to at least gain a better understanding of it from others’ perspective.
*Stay current on art news and theory. Read voraciously, both high and low-brow assessments of trends and interpretations in the art world. In reading about art, you learn the right lingo, became familiar with important names, and glean information that will likely inform your art in one way or another. Also visit as many theatres, museums, cinemas, galleries, and concert halls as you can possibly afford. (In the United States, Washington, D.C. is the ideal city for free cultural entertainment.)
*Learn to market yourself without sacrificing your vision. Not all artists can afford an agent or wish to have someone else represent their work. In order to survive off of your art form, therefore, you must not only have incredible talent but also strong business skills. Check out books on the subject and do some Internet research. Network as much as possible by attending creative events in your area. You can often look these up on places likes Craigslist. Try to travel to other areas, especially cities with artistic reputations (New York, Toronto, Richmond, Twin Cities, Portland, Seattle, Austin, etc.), whenever you can, to network outside of your comfort zone. Do not spend more time marketing yourself than you do on your actual art, however. You are an artist, not an entrepreneur first.
The journey to becoming a well-rounded artist is a life-long quest. You cannot expect to achieve it tomorrow, a week, a month, or even a year. Remain diligent your whole life and never abandon your passion.