As an artist who has just returned, road weary and exhausted from two back-to-back outdoor art festivals, I take great exception to those who look down on artists who choose to make their livelihood this way.
They haughtily thumb their nose at me and a large number of my colleagues by stating that unless you concentrate on your art and ignore the marketing aspect, or unless you present something edgy or controversial or avant-garde, then you are not an artist.
They scoff at art that is “cute,” “clever,” “interesting,” or “nifty.” They make the word vendor sound like a dirty word.
Wow, I am glad I don’t live in that world.
In my world I encourage people to think they are, or can be, an artist. In my humble opinion, as I have told the fourth graders who I have tried to inspire on “art day” at the elementary school, the cool thing about art is that there is no right or wrong. If it pleases you, it is right.
I have learned in the past few years (by being one of those tawdry, art-fair tent dwellers) that there is most decidedly an audience for everyone.
Who gets to decide what is good and worthy? It is all in the eye of the person who creates, the casual viewer, and the purchaser. . . all will have different opinions. Hopefully, they will be more generous than those before-mentioned critics who have such a lofty opinion of themselves.
I have been asked to teach my first workshop in the spring. I have already begun to formulate ways to instill confidence in my students. . . to make them feel like artists. I plan to create an environment where they are not afraid to try something new.
Will we create some less than stellar artwork along the way? Most definitely. Will someone go home with the seed of hope that they can move forward with something they only dreamed about before? I HOPE SO!
Yes, there are people that can paint much better than I, but there are those who cannot paint at all. There are people that command much higher prices for their artwork, but I consider it a great honor when someone is willing to give me their hard-earned money in order to take home a piece of my work and hang it in their home. . . even if it is just because it matches their decor.
I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I create art that makes people happy when they look at it. I know it is not thought-provoking or pensive, but the potter at the booth next to me this past weekend said to me,” I love watching the smiles on the faces of the people as they approach your work.”
That is what I am going for. And that is enough for me.
There are many wonderful artists out there who don’t have the luxury of creating merely for the sake of creating. We must sell our work and art festivals are one honest way we have found to meet that need. This is how I buy my family’s groceries. Does that make me less of an artist? I do not think so.
There are positive, generous, hard-working people at every festival I attend. So when I go to an art show these are the people I seek out. Because I am an artist. . . not a name-caller, or a negative person, or a label maker. An artist. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.