Sunday, September 23, 2012

Advice to All Considering a Career in the Arts - Visual Arts, Writing, Dance, Acting, Architecture, Design, Singing, Music, ALL

Michelangelo's David in Florence, Italy (detail)
Advice is cheap
but here goes -
I may ramble a bit.

Recently, I was asked to give some advice to an artist who was about to launch from school into the real world of the arts. 

Dear Emerging Artist:

- Honestly, luck plays a huge role in all artistic recognition and artistic success is defined only by the individual. 

You will find that artist say they feel the pressure to "do something else, something that is practical, something that makes good money, something that is do-able and responsible." They hear this from parents, concerned family members, in-laws, lovers, friends and advisers. I have heard from instructors who suffer from this and many associates - OK, every artist suffers from this! If you have only experienced full support up until now, someday you will feel this pressure, too. And if it never comes from others it will be self-inflicted. 
- This is half of the naturally occurring "angst" of the arts. 
- The other half of "artistic angst" is: "Am I good enough?"  
Overcome both: 1) Do what you love! & 2) It is impossible to be good enough! If you ever think you are, it's over.

MY BEST AND ONLY REAL ADVICE to anyone going into any of the arts is:


- It may mean having two other jobs, or by surrounding yourself with supportive people, or by doing your art very early in the morning or very late at night - OR by simply realizing: Nothing difficult, new or artistic has ever been accomplished without taking the road less traveled, cutting your own trail, up-hill, against a strong head wind and through tangly, prickly shrubs. Being an artist requires sacrifice and disciplined hard work, often unrecognized and many times unrewarded.

Do not try to please others, when developing your style - it should naturally evolve out of you. Do the art you feel is your assignment, the reason you were put on this planet!

He took the road less traveled, choosing art as a career, infuriating his father who considered the arts not to be a respectable choice.

- "Michelangelo" Buonarotti, the Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, and engineer was born in Tuscany in 1475. At age 13, against his father's wishes, he apprenticed as an artist and by the age of 25, he had sculpted The Pieta (now in St. Peter's). By 29, after four years of labor, he completed his masterpiece, the 14' tall marble sculpture of David - representing a force for good and a public symbol of strength, liberty and freedom for the city of Florence. 
- Commissioned by the Pope, working alone and having never been a "painter", he took four more years, painting into the wet plaster of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, scenes from Genesis - high on shaky scaffolding, mostly on his back, and in extreme hot, cold and confined conditions. Today, his Sistine Chapel frescoes are considered some of the greatest paintings in all of art history. 
- Eventually he was named to be the chief architect for St. Peter's Cathedral, where he transformed the structure by designing the huge, elegant dome and the dramatic outside plaza. 
- His career was difficult, having to overcome constant backstabbing from less talented, political rivals and having to overcome many seemingly impossible technical challenges. But he succeeded in spite of his multitude of problems. Michelangelo died at the age 89 and is recognized as one of the greatest contributors to culture, ever. 
- THANK GOODNESS he did not listen to his father, a man who was probably trying to protect his son.

- Most artists will never make a huge individual impact on this world, but collectively all musicians, writers, visual artists, architects, designers, dancers, actors, singers - all artists - are of extreme importance to society, by making their collective marks, mirroring our times, keeping life elegant, or interesting, or real, or thoughtful, or truthful, or beautiful or enjoyable for TODAY! Even if the artistic performance or statement will only be a memory, tomorrow. 

- In creating a situation where you can enjoy making art, making money must be addressed! 

Andy Warhol had two parts to his ART process: 1) The things he did for ART; & 2) The things he did for MONEY! 
- First figure out your money plan.
- Most importantly, for the things you do for your ART, you must put your heart, soul and absolute best effort into making the highest level of art possible. (Consider how you will make it great, at your skill level and with the resources available to you.) 
- Never get distracted by thoughts of fame or fortune in the ARTS. Fame and fortune comes to very few in any artistic discipline - only the top 4% get any recognition at all. KEEP IN MIND, THEY ALL EARNED RECOGNITION AFTER THEY WERE NOTEWORTHY for their talents and contribution to the arts! 
- Figure out what you want to do for your ART and what you want to do for your MONEY. They can be one and the same and that is the best case scenario, but life and your landlord demand real money, not tap-dancing.

- All it takes to be an artist, is to declare it. "I am an Artist!" 
You never know, MAYBE - YOU will be the ONE to make a great, notable contribution to our culture. 

If you know you are an artist in your soul, remember life is short. With that in mind, "Go for it!"

Jack A. Atkinson
September 2012

(© Jack A. Atkinson, September 22, 2012 - Feel free to pass this advice letter on to any and all you may think might appreciate it. I only ask, if you do, please send a link to this page (below), rather than copying and pasting it into a different document. It is my intellectual property and it will help to build more traffic to this site. Thank you for your consideration.)

Until later,

ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness, the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved. Concept, Original Art, Text & Photographs are © Copyright 2012 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. All gallery, museum, fair or festival photographs were taken with permission. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

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