Between Artists: May Edition

 |  June 3, 2021

I’m late to the party in answering this question, but since it’s a party of one, I’m going to say it’s ok. Last month Jen Worden asked me about the term “working artist” and whether that term is something that feels like me. If yes, why. And if not, what is the term that defines my art practice, and why.

Yes, I would say that that label is one I would apply to myself. On a practical matter, I have contracts with galleries, and deadlines for shows. I have a checking account that is solely for my art- to deposit into and to pay the bills associated with the costs of supplies, shipping, and then paying myself. I also pay taxes based on my sales and income. I consider it my work so once my kids go to school, I head into the studio to create work that will mostly likely head to a show or gallery. My schedule is flexible, of course, but I have a studio schedule where I have to get stuff done.

photo credit: Cyndi Monaghan

That seems like such a boring answer.

I once had my natal chart read by an intuitive reader and she said that I am an artist that considers art to be a serious matter. That I don’t approach it as just a way to express myself in a carefree way, skipping through fields in wild abandon. She smiled and said, you are not a flower child. She suggested that I try to be more playful to balance out my seriousness. I don’t disagree. I laughed when she was speaking about this aspect of my personality. But I don’t fully agree. I find my joy in the creative process. When I am creating, all feels right in the world. Which is a big deal for me, because the outside world often seems like such a pit, these days. But I am also a very earthbound, rooted and practical in how I approach things, and that’s probably what she means- the entrepreneur side of being an artist. Although I’m not really very good at that either. I do my best though.

I know a lot of people carry emotional baggage when it comes to the term artist/Artist/ARTIST. I have my own. But at some point I decided to let that go and let labels go and accept that I make things, all sorts of different things. And I put some of those things out in the world because our creations are meant to be shared and yes, I think my voice matters. It’s sort of like putting out s.o.s. beams out there knowing that my creation will reach somebody and they will also feel heard. And so I make the work and then I work to put my creations out in the world. It’s an honor and a privilege to do it and I am grateful to have the opportunity. It is a very difficult path though and I would say that most artists that I show with, also have other jobs- some art related, some not. (And there have been times when I want to throw my hands up in the air and I think that I should have stayed in my job as a speech and language therapist in the school district with benefits, vacation and a pension and just had art be my release from that stress. But that’s a story for another day.)

I think that the term doesn’t necessarily have to do whether all your income comes from your art, but perhaps the mentality that one approaches their art with. Maybe it’s just the dedication to one’s practice in addition to dedicating your energy towards having your livelihood come from that dedication, either fully or partially.

Thanks Jen for such a complex topic to tackle. I’ll be thinking about this question more even after I hit publish.

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