Sometimes people ask: why would anyone in their right mind want to become an artist? Statistically you have poor chances to ever make a living out of it. I recently read in an article on artnet that according to a survey undertaken by kickstarters platform Creative Independent only 3% of participating artists feel financially stable. Why is it that I and many others have chosen this path against all odds?
This brings me back to a conversation I had with another artist at my studio the other day. We talked about being artists, our experiences, hopes and paths. Very quickly I learned that he just like me started his artistic career later in life. It is funny how artist often try a traditional career first before daring to make art their plan A. Opposed to me he went to art school and followed the path expected of artists. The artworld can be one where credentials are hugely important and it appears that often your standing in art school determines the level of success you will be able to have in your career. The question I subsequently asked myself is: How will I manage to succeed anyway, how will I be able to convince people that my art is worth it, that I am worth taking a look at?
I believe I have no other option than to put my all into it, like any other entrepreneur who aspires to be successful. Here is the reason why: Art is the love of my life and it is just who I am. When I am at my studio, I am in my natural habitat. Some critical characters will mention the fact that you cannot live of love alone. True, but loving what you do makes a lot of things seem easy: working extremely hard, making an immense amount of sacrifices, constantly stretching and challenging yourself, pushing even harder when it gets tough. Not the kind of "walk in the park" easy. Easy in the sense that at the bottom of your heart you know it is worth it. The smallest success cancels out the set backs and makes me work harder. I think even the small successes needs to be cherished and valued. We need to treasure them. Equally I constantly give my best to take learnings out of what ever goes wrong. Going back to the conversation with the other artist, in fact a lot of the artist I met, whose artistic endeavours followed or run in parallel to a more traditional breadwinning career. I assume we all have one thing in common: We were born this way. Not following the sound of the art sirens is a battle I have rarely seen won.
So the answer is that you do not become an artist, you are one. Independent whether you decide to make a living out of it or not.