Friday, December 16, 2016

Art is Work

I went to java with a young graphic designer recently (yes, drinking copious amounts of coffee is in my job description) and had a bittersweet conversation. He's a super creative fellow with his art, but apparently he'd originally wanted to go into theater. His father nixed that idea in a quick-slap hurry. Theater isn't a "real" job, according to that fellow -- and that is a common mindset I'd love to blow to smithereens.

There's a perception floating out there in Adultland that art isn't really a profession. It's a hobby. Childish, even. Art is optional, but work is not. Creativity can't possibly be a true vocation because it's clearly a pastime, right?

Wrong-oh, Bucko. Art is a need because artists show beauty and meaning. It is art that allows us to experience the world from a different perspective and often spurs creativity in others.

The fact is that art is work. Expect it to be and treat it as such. If you don't respect what you're doing, neither will others. I came across a list once that spelled out the characteristics of a professional, no matter what your vocation is . . .

7 Characteristics of a True Professional
1. Interpersonal skills: Value face-to-face interactions
2. Work ethic: Put forth the required effort to earn rewards
3. Controlled use of on-the-job-technology
4. Commitment to quality work
5. Appearance
6. Communication skills
7. Knowledge

Apply those characteristics to the way you go about creating and producing your art and you will be seen as a professional instead of a schlocky hippy who pretends to have a job.

Will you make it as an artist? I don't know. Would you make it as a brain surgeon? I don't know that either. The thing is that every profession has its risks. Artists have the right to expect from their profession what others expect from theirs.

Don't let others poo-poo your chosen line of work, be it an actor, writer, or watercolor artist extraordinaire. You do you, even if that means you have a day job until you can fly on your own art wings.


chappydebbie said...

Great advice....and I totally agree.

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