Most artists in this country are greatly under-appreciated. When I refer to most artists, I am not talking about the musicians and actors who are bringing home multimillion dollar paychecks each year. No. I’m talking about the artists who are barely getting by and if they’re lucky, still living in their parent’s basements. These artists are hanging onto their last thread of identity, uselessly dragging their fingernails through the sand as the undertow of conformity threatens to pull them in at any moment. They are almost drowning, almost. They are tired. Tired of rejection, tired of trying, and most of all tired of fighting the culture of conformity; an entity that berates their life’s choices at every opportunity. Most give up, some drown, but a small percentage hang in there, hoping that each new day might be the day that they get their big break.
The pressure to conform is immense. It does not just come from “well-meaning” friends and family who think the solution to the artist’s problems is to get a regular 9-to-5 like everybody else. These people do not understand the call the artist is pursuing to begin with. What they’ve noticed is that the artist in their life is struggling; that they don’t have health insurance and barely enough money to pay for gas. In their eyes, these dilemmas are reason enough for the artist to give up on their unrealistic pursuit, their dream, and get a real job. And they view the artistic pursuit as just that: a dream. To them, the artist’s goal of sharing their art with the world is an unattainable fantasy.
Note: This is an article I am writing for a fellow blogger, Sharon Nesbit-Davis’ blog. She works and blogs for the Rockford Arts Council of Rockford, Illinois.
I had only been on Etsy for a little while when I decided I was going to delete my site- demolish it, actually, like a wrecking ball to a dilapidated building. You see, I’d been on there for almost 3 months and hadn’t sold anything. Etsy is an online marketplace where artists can sell their goods. With sites like Etsy, long gone are the days where artists and artisans had to lend their goods out to shops and galleries on consignment to make a sale; a sale which sometimes costs the artist up to 50% of their sales revenue per item sold.
My family and I visited Salem, Massachusetts a lot when I was younger. There was this store on the corner of the main street that I always admired. Not only did it sell paintings and photography but a variety of colorful and unique home goods, really cool dishes, and a lot of handmade stuff. When the store was quiet, you could see the owner putting craft projects together and working on paintings at a little workstation in the center of the room. Sometimes she even had her baby with her cooing in the baby carrier slung across her back. I thought it was the coolest thing ever: to be able to do what you love in that capacity.
I wanted to one day have a store like this, a store where I could showcase and sell all my jewelry and paintings; things that otherwise sat untouched in boxes in my bedroom. I always wondered though, how would I ever be able to pay for such a thing. Rent wasn’t cheap especially for commercial space. Again with places like Etsy, what used to be a necessary overhead costs were now almost gone. No more overhead- well not no more overhead, but certainly no more overhead at those prices.
I have been told there is no love like in the movies. I disagree. For example, this weekend I went with my boyfriend to his family’s cabin in Vermont just over the border of Western Mass. It was a beautiful weekend, the fall leaves cascaded from the oaks and maples like delicate Chantilly drapery. Saturday afternoon, we road our mountain bikes to a summit where we had a picnic. It was perfect, he’s so sweet, he even brought my favorite, lavender champagne! To be honest, most of the weekend, we were cut off from the rest of the world holed up in the cabin’s foyer under its vaulted ceilings. It was so cozy by the roaring fireplace. The heat lit the room like a grenade in a fox hole.
A bit redundant, evocative artist. What is the artists job if not to produce emotions that captivate? I was doing a great job with the completion of my book when I ran into a huge writer’s block. Since I never believed in writer’s block, dealing with it was like a non-believer living in a haunted house. No matter what I did, accept it or deny it, it would not go away. For days I stressed. Why was this happening to me?
After speaking with a friend, I slowly began to dig my way out of my writer’s block. First I told him the suspected culprit of my writer’s block. That it was possibly related to a subject I was having doubts about putting in the book. The book is a work of creative non-fiction and although I have already spattered my soul across the Blogosphere there were still things I was afraid to write about. Mainly, I worried about people being judgmental.