Forget the Noisy World Outside and Do Your Work

About 5 months after I graduated I realised that what I really needed to do was my work. And my work alone.

I didn’t need to scroll Instagram feeds, or google articles on how to grow my following, or email 200 galleries every fortnight or Look obsessively at how many people liked my new post of finished or ‘partially-finished’ work or search for new ideas, or read what methods other artists use to make or exhibit their work, or try to revolutionise my materials, jump ship to another art medium, collaborate with another creator or decide which residencies to apply for in 6 months or a years time (I would probably forget about it amidst a sea of notes describing other ideas or opportunities and open calls anyway). 

I needed to do my work. Why? Because if you are to be successful at any of those above considerations, you need above anything - good, fully realised work. No amount of Facebook or Instagram followers or subscribers can actually give you good work, until you have done the work.

And what do you need in order to do your work?

Focus.

When I really thought about it - I could only remember a handful of times when I had been, truly fixated and focus on my work. This came as a huge surprise, from a student of Art for 7 years, and a person whom was well known amongst fellow artists, friends and tutors as the ‘driven, focused one’. It really occurred to me that all of the things that I had allowed to prevent me from truly focussing were extremely superficial, especially at my level - and that level was a successful ‘graduate’. I had surpassed many of my peers in terms of initial exhibition success, awards and impeccable grades etc, but in the world of art - a complete unknown. Welcome to the world new graduate - you are reading the right book.

And it wasn’t really my fault or any of our faults. Social media makes today distressingly distracting, and makes us people who are just too dam ‘busy’ with these distractions in order to really, truly focus on our work. Thinking too which is equally as damaging that the so called ‘busy’ lives we lead answering every one of these distractions is actually helping us. Can you honestly say that you remember the last 20 new followers or likes you gained on Facebook or Instagram? Why do you think that is? It is because they have nothing to do with your work or success. But rather boil down to addictions that only serve one real outcome - to distract you from doing your work and to enlarge the pay cheques of their founders. 

Imaginary hierarchy

Using social media to test your work’s value is like chasing a ghost. Offering nothing more than an imaginary hierarchy. Why? Because it is open to anyone and everyone who has ever held a pencil. Genuinely, good work cannot be judged on a platform of anyone. This is the danger that you subject your mind to every time to indulge in it and its comparisons. 

The solution? do your work. 

Making Work for the Sake of Posting

If you’re an artist and like me, you may have fallen in to the daily post trap. Many advisors tell us to make daily posts. Now, while this can be all very well, I think they have actually left one vital thing out. Post GOOD WORK. Good work can at the best of times take more than one day to produce. But we have to post everyday right? Or else our following will drop and we will inevitably fall behind and fail. What? Fall behind who? And fail at what? 

Ditching the Illusion

The idea of our following dropping, if we do not post daily resulting in our inevitable failure is a complete and utter delusion. The only thing that will actually cause you to fail in your career is if you fail to make any good work. In this instance, buyers will not buy your work, collectors will not look at your work. Galleries will not represent your work.

The contact you should make

- Artists

- Galleries

- Relative open calls

- Residencies when appropriate

I began an experiment in which I would spend 6 months completely avoidant of Facebook, Instagram and any other social tool, unless I actually had a good reason to post in order to actually do my work. I really wanted to know that if this time off from ‘taking time off’ to procrastinate online would actually impede my success. I had a good inclination that not only would it not do this but it would in fact do the opposite. I set out to narrow my focus. on my actual WORK. 

 

 

Combining Meaningful Creative Work and Making a Living

The Predicament of Combining Meaningful Creative Work and Making a Living (Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey).

 

The combination of how to successfully combine meaningful creative work and make a living. It's a predicament. This conversation I have shared with countless people. Not limited to; friends, family members, teachers, artists, writers, musicians, entrepreneurs, business Owners and to what end? "No blue print" seems to be the definitive answer. Which I can believe but it does not satisfy my itch to know more. It is not that as a creator I want the journey of my pursuits to be given or spelled out to me, however some hearty advice to take note from is always appreciated.

So, I have begun to seek out and share some of the advice or solutions of some of the most successful artists out there today, whom have managed to create and design a lifestyle that successfully solves this occupational predicament. They have ever so kindly shared with us their wisdom. The purpose of this is not to say that the individual that manages to harness creativity and financial security in one tangible lifestyle has struck gold but much rather how and if they have found happiness in their pursuits. Work and financial satisfaction is, in our western world, our biggest 1st world problem. These stories; I hope will shine some light on your own creative, lifestyle journey.

Entry number 1

Source: storylineblog.com, author: J.Becker.

My takeaways

...art has a unique ability to impact our emotions and change our worldview. 

...art entered my soul, appealed to my heart, and made new ideas plausible. Art changed me.

Full Article URL;

http://storylineblog.com/2014/05/06/how-art-has-the-potential-to-change-the-world/

 

Awakening Hearts

Why Travel is important to Awaken Our Hearts

 

"Anatomically functioning, beating hearts among drawings and sounds..."

 

An idea inspired while travelling on a metro in Rome...

Crammed to the doors, people are shuffling around awkwardly - not knowing whether to direct their attention towards the window, floor or ceiling. Avoiding eye contact and awaiting the journey to end so they can scurry on to continue their day separate from everyone around them.

Here and throughout the city, frustrations can be noticed, between tourists and staff. People are impatient and short tempered. It would appear that no attention is brought to the moment, the other person or themselves. 

Tavel is so important because it situates one in locations to witness the way people are in the face of each other, globally. We cannot expect to make a difference in the world, if we do not see outside our immediate bubble, including that of our physical body and mind.  Set outside into the world and see for yourself, the making and function of our planet in order to better understand where you stand within it.

Questions to be asked when contemplating how creativity can affect change in the world;

 

- What value can be added? - 

- What can be illuminated to others for their benefit? - 

- How can compassion be cultivated? -

 

To be most valuable, art should move beyond the purely aesthetic and seek to educate others about the world we live in. This work asks one to consider, the person standing next to you. Their heart is beating for the same reason yours does. Outside of your body, but humming to the same tune, within the ebb and flow of life.

Rather than depicting the famous or well-known political figures one chooses to focus on everyone else...

 

Are we significant? 

Do you matter?

Are you important?

Do you belong in this world?

Does your life have meaning?

 

Of course it does...

 

The you, and the 6.999 999 999 billion other people in the world arrived on this planet in the same way (including the famous) and thus makes important to document the so called ordinary. To see people everywhere, in everyday life, living alone and together.

 

Art and Lifestyle Design

Two Separate Paths...

 

After leaving art school, like many of my peers, I came up against the fork in the road. Decision time. I had to decide on what to do next and how I was going to move forward. What I realized was that I didn’t just want to make art. (After investing seven years, dedicated to studying art and following my passion of becoming a fine artist, this was not an easy reality to swallow). However, what I discovered is that, although I loved being able to retreat to a solitary studio to create, having spent most of my childhood doing so, I actually wanted to create something louder and bigger than that. I wanted to figure out, how I could bring all of my passions together and help other people to do the same. Art, writing, researching, travelling and helping others. These were things that made me tick. We are not single faceted people, but rather specimens of abundant interests, histories and unique qualities that make up who we are, without which one can feel the notions of emptiness of areas in our lives that lack substance. What became the main challenge for me, was how I could coalesce all of these things together, find out how I could make a living doing it and on top of that show other people how to do it too.

 

I realized that my life was not only dedicated to making art - but it was to help other people set out to design the lives that they wanted to live. Not giving up on what they wanted to do, and not believing negative claims such as, “You cannot do what you want”. “You cannot make money doing what you want".

 

I just didn’t believe those claims. I knew millions of people were out there making it happen, to mention one (and leading to many others) is John Lee Dumas, an American Podcaster that interviews a different successful entrepreneur everyday, teasing out, what made them successful. Dumas, introduces us to thousands of inspiring voices not to mention his own that are living, breathing proof that the lives we so truly crave are there to make a reality, if we so choose.  So I just asked myself…What can I do to fulfill my life, so that I can thereafter help other people do the same. I wasn’t convinced I would be doing enough by making good art - and I do. I didn’t want to be another struggling artist - that became bitter and poor, or another highly successful artist that wasn’t satisfied with the art world. Sure enough I hadn’t climbed all the way to the top of the art ladder - but I had a look around at what other artists and curators had experienced and I wasn’t sure that, that whole lifestyle would fulfil my dreams. Not solely to be an artist but to push people forward in their own lives and to harness a true feeling of financial and location freedom. 

 

I return to the fork in the road I mentioned in the first paragraph - now, this decision is no easy one to make. Firstly because you have probably dedicated yourself to many years of studying a certain craft - in my case, seven years of portfolio building, fine art study and on top of that a Masters degree in Art and Humanities. All of which I really wanted, and strived through working towards my goals. Achieving multiple awards and two prestigious travel awards - I was on my way. I had everything, technically in place for the next step of the journey. Two week out of education, i had already moved to a lovely large studio space and had my work in a successful group exhibition and had three clients wanting to purchase work from me. Great! Its just, there is a hunger for more. And this is where the hard part comes in, because while all of these wonderful things that I have worked so hard for are completely paying off, I still wonder what lay ahead on the other side? Is this enough? How can you walk away from something you have worked so hard for? And genuinely wanted. Well first of all, I am NOT going to walk away from it - at least not in a black and white fashion but my discovery over the past month is that, perhaps I do not need to walk away or change course, bu merely expand and tweet the journey my ship is on. 

 

So it came down to this. Art and Lifestyle Design. An idea that coalesces doing what you love and creating a lifestyle that you actually want to live. The truth is, there is no ONE way, to do this. Each person's design will look different. I knew that there was something huge to be learnt here but didn’t know exactly what yet. Without just being another inspirational or motivational speaker - this had to come from doing.

 

Letting go of the ‘how tos’, and just being honest each time I showed up; in blog posts, YouTube videos, Instagram posts or tweets. There is something to be said for consistency, but if you are so focused on the ‘how-to’ make something look a certain way and doing it on specific days just so its there - you forfeit the honesty - the real want and need to share something. If you are out in the world making changes and experiencing them for yourself then you do have something to part with that could be of value to others.

 

The problem with social media is that many of us (the 80 and 90’s children of this millennium) , are the 'social media-half bloods’ as I like to call ourselves because we were not born into it. We had to instead, accustom ourselves to new technology. Although we are lucky to be young enough to make a good stab at ‘keep-ing up’ with the new kids on the block, it has become a bit of a grey-area in terms of how we actually utilise these new platforms. One, because of the technical challenges in handling new software and skills, but secondly within the realm of ‘knowing’ what to post and why we are actually posting it. Is it so we can get 100 likes? Or is it because we are wholeheartedly adding value to others. If the post in question isn’t adding value, and we realise this, we panic under the consistency law and act; "I have to be consistent with this posting thing or else ill fall behind"! 

 

This is our reality now, and for anyone who wishes to make a business or successful entrepreneurial business in 2015 better get clued up, or else face being swallowed up by the technological noise that is the internet. A daunting realisation for someone like me, a 25 year old artist whom aspires to be a successful entrepreneur. However the only thing more daunting than that is the thought of settling...settling for a conventional life that does not set out to fulfill my real passions in life. What would be the point? I leave you with a message from a wonderful lady whom learned this the hard way and in her later years, remarks; 

 

“If you want a remarkable life, first you must choose that you want one”. - Debbie Millman

 

The Travelling Artist

Ditch the Hierarchy...

 

Each documentation has a story but not necessarily an intended destination - source material is chosen and collected in response to a composition, a feeling or a human connection that is allured. Whatever it may be, it begins with honesty. The stories and experiences we carry with us, our views of life and the language share between one another, both spoken and physical will forever be enough to draw my inspiration. 

Setting out to generate art work, developing and growing from each country in the world I visit. This is the life...that I want.  Making passive income online through publishing, art auctions, combined with showing and selling artwork and helping others to follow their passions. The studio, the internet, social media platforms and my camera are my tools. Sharing original master level art that is wholeheartedly made in response to the world and people I meet around me.

New places bring new inspiration because when we are travelling we are excited. Our inner beings shine their liveliest selves, as we are curious again - to the new places and faces that surround us. In each new place, I love seeing the people, the way they live, the way they communicate, the food, the colors, the smells. Everything is different and living this way, you are truly able to experience those differences first hand.  Later on, I aspire to take these experiences and art into  residency's, having braved a different career style.

One of the biggest things I have learnt is that I am so grateful to have left behind me the hierarchy of the art world that I for so long felt like I needed to climb. 

Following a sequential line is not the inspirational beacon I hope to create for you or myself. An industry,full of competition and snobbery (you may not see it like this) but I for one felt quite suffocated by the workplace that lay ahead of me. And I can tell you right now - out here…I feel none of that. And by out here…I mean the world. The real world, outside of the bubble we are so accustomed to calling home. The one that leaves behind rules and limitations, that limit our dreams and passions and most creative selves. This life, is not one that avoids responsibility, that many of your loved ones will try to argue, but rather becomes your responsibility to fulfill your life in a way that the majority are too scared, and then report back to them. Help them see the bigger picture that exists, beyond the norm. 

I feel grateful to be enlightened. Additionally, it is so amazing to share it with you. To be truly honest and as a result be inspiring others to do the same. To hear people saying, wow you’re so right or I wish I could do that - it fuels my incentive even more to say YOU CAN! Get out here and live it for yourself!  This is your ONE LIFE - better make it worth while my lovely people!