I just wrote about the mindset of an artist, which is the difference between the artist who “makes it” versus the artist who doesn’t. This is sort of part II of that.
Some people think there’s something special about producing art. Or the artist is born with some supernatural talent. No, that’s all bullshit.
The difference between the artist who makes it and the artist who doesn’t is the former keeps going whereas the latter quits. The former realizes that he has to keep producing art to get better.
That artist keeps learning and keeps honing his craft. He’s continually trying out new things. You’ll see it in his art. You’ll see the constant experimentation and the constant pushing of boundaries.
Keep producing art and at worst, you’ll have something to write home about
That’s the thing right there. If you keep producing art, at the very worst, you’ll have something to write home about. At the very best, you’ll become a household name.
I’ve lived long enough to see people’s careers take off. Some take off faster than others. Some take longer. Regardless, nobody ever remembers the one who quit.
I can see an improvement from my earlier paintings to my newer ones. The more experimenting you do, the more chances you take, the more you’ll improve. That’s how it works. You have to keep taking chances. You have to keep doing experimenting.
After awhile, your style will develop to the point that it looks like your work. Not someone else’s. But your work.
I know the exact point I reached that step. That’s when I realized I had to sell it.
And not ironically, I had my first commission. When you start calling yourself an artist, and say it with a straight face, that’s when you become the artist.
I’m always trying something new. I’ve been in dozens of caves before, yet never painted one.
Recently, I’ve been getting into dream sequences. That started when I painted a real life dream. I immediately called Allie and asked for a quick modeling session. She did some Marilyn Monroe poses and I got several paintings out of this quick session.
I’m still in my dream phase. Going back to the cave, I decided to stick a cave somewhere in this girl with a fairy painting.
So the cave has a stream coming out of it. To the left, you’ll see a girl talking to a fairy. Once again, we’ll see the same moon that keeps coming back.
Since it’s dreamlike, I’m intentionally working with a limited color palette. Except for the girl and the fairy. They’re in full color. That trick makes them both pop out and everything else gets pushed back.
Learn by accident
If you keep producing art, you’ll end up learning things by complete accident. For instance, this dual chromatic dream concept. I’m only using two colors – black gouache and Daniel Smith Moonglow watercolor. (Except of course for the girl, the fairy, and the moon).
If you keep producing art, you’ll get the same results. You’ll learn a lot of things by complete accident. You’ll have your “a-ha!” moments where you discover really cool things.
I cannot stress enough that experience trumps talent. That’s why when companies hire, they look for experience. You learn on the job. The same concept applies for art. You learn by doing.
You could take all the classes in the world. But nothing beats real life experience.
The obsessed artist
When you’ve been in this world long enough, you’ll meet this artist. He’s not necessarily more talented than his competition. But he’s nucking futs!
He’s working while everyone else is partying. He’s working while everyone else is sleeping.
Years later, he’s selling paintings for a lot of money. How did this happen?
Put two and two together.
A few who made it
Over the years, my wife and I have bought a lot of art. We’ve bought art from art galleries, from auctions, from street fairs, and from the actual artists. We’ve met a few artists who actually make a pretty good living doing their art.
It’s funny because I was surprised that one successful artist we met, I won’t say her name, has a shitty website. But, that’s not how she operates. She’s a crazy hard working woman in real life who puts lots and lots of miles on her vehicle and aggressively goes from place to place to plant her art everywhere she can.
She’s just not an online person. She sells in person. Yet, she’s a damn good saleswoman, despite her weak online presence.
You have to be one or the other. Or of course both. But if you’re going to make it as an artist, you’re simply going to have to go farther than your competition.