Saturday, July 05, 2014


This is probably the soonest I've wrapped up a project and managed to add it to my system of advancement here on the blog. And it will take me a while to debrief in full. At the moment I find myself half asleep, wide awake and perhaps full of longing. I've also crossed a threshold for now where I can relax a little. I think I'm putting 'art' to 'rest' for the rest of the year (at least).

The scare quotes are simply in reference to the fact that tomorrow I'll probably get up and draw, but it won't be for anything, just to get better at drawing. I plan to spend a while, I don't know how long listlessly exploring.

It also comes to mind that 'you gotta go away, to come back' it's time to tear everything down and reexamine the foundations, ask the hard questions and build something new to address the new problems you come across when you advance.

I have two collaborators in my life that I intend to produce a lot of content and artwork for as well. Both are similarly positioned though, in that they are time poor and simultaneously feel trapped in a rat race, spinning wheels and getting nowhere - other metaphors. And of course I have opinions on this, but what I increasingly do now - is follow my own advice.

And this is the thing, art almost unwittingly became a rat-race for me. It starts with the lead times - you need to have the next show in your head before you even wrap up the one you are currently on. This does lead to a state of perpetual dissatisfaction - I'm glad I have the skill to see a project through to it's conclusion, commitment and reliability are not to be taken lightly.

Just what I miss, and I rediscovered it in the past three days. Is being able to enjoy what you are doing right now. This group show for me was (and it should not be surprising, yet is) the least amount of art I've had to do for the effort of organising an exhibition. It was all the usual stress and hassle and waiting on shit, but I didn't have the mental break down inducing 6 weeks of churning out art to show.

The surprising thing is, that not just by being in a groupshow, but from organising it and having to coordinate with other artists gave myself a deep appreciation of myself as an artist. It taught me what I have going for me as an artist. It taught me heaps. Not just about myself but about the business and best practice and risk and return and distribution of risk, scheduling, ownership etc. etc.

Financially, it was the worst thing I've ever done. But even days ago when I still expected pieces to sell and to make a bunch of money off the bar - I knew I'd personally be lucky to break even, and worst coming to worst, it would just be expensive.

But here's the thing, as a businessman I'd go 'that's a failure'. But reframe it, because a lot of the artists I had down for this show do courses and go to school to learn how to be an artist. And yet we (generally) think nothing of spending a couple of grand on a course (a semester) to learn how to be an artist (or anything else) and graduate into a state where we know nothing of actually being an artist (or anything else).

It's the first time I've become aware that it is much cheaper to try and fail, than to study and then try.

And I mean, there were lot's of successes in this group show - I got some great artists to come up with great pieces that they otherwise wouldn't have for example. But that has to be matched with a failure - I didn't get the buyer in front of those pieces. etc.

For every positive though, an artist like anybody else has to go to the bottom line to pursue the dream. That's the tricky part. Much as I enjoy and believe in what I did, if it doesn't break even, or loses money I can't afford to keep doing it.

The important thing to remember, is the dream itself. And getting the dream to work. Chances are I could make more money as a tax accountant. But that isn't the dream, I want to make money as an artist. Perhaps a better example is - you have a musician that is sweating away, grinding it out, playing for beer in local venues trying to get his original material heard. He has skills, just can't get a break. Why he could compose soundtracks for films - a good paying job.

Yes. But that's not the dream, the dream is to make money from writing songs for yourself. I think to most artists this becomes a form of double think. I find it straight forward.

Money made doing dentistry - worthless. Money made doing art - worthwhile.

The quantities really become moot, it's the means by which I earn money that matters.

I didn't realise my vision with classicisme, but here's a secret, I never do. I would call it a failure though, in the net mixture of successes and failures. And here Honest Abe put it well and put it succinctly -

I am not concerned that you failed, I am concerned you might be comfortable with that failure.

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