Thursday, March 7, 2013

Living the Artist Life? People want to do this?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

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Really, you want to live the life of an artist?

Recently, I posted about the trials and tribulations of dating an artist and the “Artist Speed Dating” event held at the Dixon. I contend that it is not that glamorous of a thing, dating an artist. They are usually in some various level of poor and/or underemployed, unemployed or too good/busy to work so they can hone their skills as visual artists. Or really, after going to art school, they realize they have no real tangible skills and a mountain of student loan debt. So, in the end you have to pay for most things because of this. Oh well. If it is any consolation most of the single artists I know are quite cute.

What about actually being an artist? It is a lot of work, a lot of work. I am not just referring to the work that takes place in the studio, which is important, of course. But I am talking about all the other activities that are, perhaps, even more important than the work itself ... the promotion materials, website, approaching galleries, keeping/maintaining a relationship with the media, trying to find funding sources (hardly any exist) and exhibitions for your work, and maintaining proper storage and shipping. All that's the hardest part about being an artist. And that's not to mention the worries about having affordable health insurance or being able to do your taxes. I cannot tell you how many artists I know that overpay or do not get back enough in taxes at the end of the year because of lack of access to information.

This is a problem that needs to be better addressed in these art schools and art departments of the colleges and universities where the students are accumulating so much debt. Sure, most offer their students ONE professional practices class for the entirety of the college career, a class that spends too much time on how to write an artist statement.

Let me tell you this, the artist statements are not important, at all. How many artist statements have you read at commercial galleries or museums? How many have you even seen? Not very many at all, if any. Sure, you need to be able to contextualize your work within a contemporary arts dialogue, but the statements are really not that important. Students need to take these professional practices classes each year, or better yet, each semester to better be able to have a chance out there in the real world. Or at least, be able to know what to expect. Too often these young artists leave school without the slightest clue on how to do the most basic of things that artists need to know. Is it because the professors themselves do not have any idea themselves? There is the notion that they, the professors, are hiding behind the veil of academia.

Regardless ... living the artist’s life. What is that all about? Well, you can find out Paul Dorrell’s version Monday, March 11th at 6 p.m. at his booksigning event for Living the Artist's Life at Booksellers at Laurelwood. Dorrell founded the Leopold Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri, (a visual arts Mecca) in 1991. And according to the press release, “has been helping emerging artists score major successes ever since.” I am no longer an emeging artist, but I still need to score some major successes. The release continues by stating that Dorrell’s “unsually candid in his discussions of depression, success, corporate greed, corporate kindness, and how to really build an art career. His talks, which are both amusing and informative, are very popular with artists, parents of artists, and art instructors.”

I am very curious to know why parents of artists would find these talks amusing and informative. Is it hope that their child is not wasting their time and money by attending art school in the first place? Sounds like the admissions departments at the Memphis College of Art and U of M Art Departments especially need to be there.

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