One fine day, you put down your brush for the very last time as a hobby painter. You stand, frozen in a moment of revelation, hearing these words in your mind: 'I am an artist.' A lightning strike could not make the point with more electric certainty. So, what do you do next?
Two choices face you as you contemplate a career in Art.
- a. You shake your head, knocking the foolish thought away.
This is the path taken by a majority of folk. After all, it's silly to think you might succeed when the world's already full of starving artists. It's all too hard. You'll never be good enough. Why risk being laughed at by everyone who knows you? Best to forget all about it.
- b.You begin your personal plan for a career as a professional artist.
This is step one on a path taken by all who succeed. It's true, some who start on this path don't reach success but those who don't take the first step are certain to fail. It takes courage to begin.
- Where do you find that courage?
It's inside you, right now. The moment you recognised you want people to see your art, you knew it meant getting your work 'out there.' Everything follows from that. It all depends on you. No wizard waits in the wings to wave a magic wand over your fate. You have to make it happen.
Sure, it's scary but keep in mind this fact: there's a long way to go before you reach the point when you must throw your hat in the ring. Time is on your side, whether you're 17 or 70. Each day you make time to learn an aspect of your craft is a day closer to producing exhibition standard artwork. Each hour you spend reading articles by other artists, about the techniques and materials to use or how galleries work, brings you closer to turning professional.
About now, you'll be thinking: 'All very well but I have a funny habit of wanting to eat! How am I to pay all the bills until that marvellous day you're promising me?'
- Well, mate, you do as artists have done since the days of cave-painting.
It's simple: you keep your 'day job' – whatever it may be – and you swap time spent on other activities for time at the easel. Everyone's day holds the same 24 hours. It's your choice how you spend the time before and after working hours.
An alternative route is available: you can apply for grants from State-funded galleries or agencies. However, I'd add a cautionary note: the price for 'free' money from the taxpayers' purse may be higher than you can afford. To paraphrase the old saying: 'take the government shilling and you must produce government art.'
Today, more people than ever before are producing artefacts. Categorisation of artefacts as 'Art' is broader than at any previous time. Technology allows production of artefacts more easily than ever. Against all that competition, how can your art stand out?
- You have an unbeatable ace up your sleeve. It is your imagination. Your unique view of the world can give the 'ordinary' a heart-breaking depth of meaning to the viewer. This only happens when you, the artist, stay true to your own way of seeing. ©Dorothy Gauvin