Want to help an artist? Talk about them.
To be an artist is to be equal parts vulnerable, passionate, determined, with at least a dash of lunacy.
We spend years honing our craft. We spend endless hours trying to define who we are as an artist. All so that we can try to start building a cohesive, coherent body of work.
We show up in our art studios, day after day, with very little immediate payoff. Even if we spend hours creating a piece, we may only think it wonderful for a brief, shining moment before that critical voice re-emerges in the back of our head, assuring us that all our hard work is in vain and to stop persisting in our daily delusion that we can be a successful artist.
We spend money on supplies. We meet with a few little successes, probably a lot of failures. We try not to internalize the criticism or the amused suggestions that we need to get a real job.
We are artists and, many of us, continue to wade on.
Some people assume that artists are lazy.
How much work can be involved in picking up a brush, a camera, or a keyboard? All our mental agony is dramatic self-indulgence.
Go to an art market, any art market. Arrive early in the morning and watch these lazy artists unloading their cars, hauling all their gear to the booth spot. Watch them spend a couple of hours arranging their art is a pleasing manner, all in the desperate hope that someone, anyone, will come and connect with one of their pieces.
Remember too that we pay for the privilege of performing all this work and, sometimes, don't even make our booth fee back.
Next, we have to perform at these markets. We have to talk coherently and persuasively about our art. We need to make that connection with the potential patron. We have to be salespeople. (Personally, anything involving talking, I am complete crap at, but I try.)
Want to support the arts?
Is there anyone in your life that is an artist? You don't even need to be the biggest fan of their work (My own mother isn't that keen on my version of photo-surrealism, but I digress.)
Whether the artist is your best friend's sister, your cousin-in-law, or your hairdresser's niece. Please talk about them.
One of the hardest things about being an artist is getting your art seen. On one level, you are terrified of letting other people judge it and you. On another level, it is hard to get into a gallery while art markets are a serious commitment in time, money and resources.
If you know an artist, talk about them. Please feel free to mention my work to your barista, your librarian, your dental hygienist, or even better, to your friend that needs some art for that twelve story hotel they just acquired.
To paraphrase, Neil Gaimon, when we make art, we feel like we are walking down the street naked.
If more people want to come watch our one person parade of vulnerability, all the better.
Notice us. Point us out. Talk about us.
What are you afraid of?
Think that there might be dark, nameless, disturbing things in the dark?
Ever wonder what might be hiding in the shadows?
Take a risk. Go for a stroll.
There might be nothing there at all.....