I have to be very careful how I say what I'm about to say... it has been brewing inside me for years, and has finally come to a point where I feel "maybe people just don't know they are doing it..." So I would like to touch on a few things that make being an artist very frustrating, and maybe you can relate to something... By the end of this post, I hope that I haven't offended anyone, as that is not my intension, but rather that you see something from a different perspective.
1. Constant charity requests
I love to support a good cause, and to give back to those who need it most. This is something I want to do from my personal resources, and also do with my time and service for charities. I also appreciate that art is one of the most popular items to be auctioned at charity events, and I have no problem donating artwork to charities of my choice.
So what's the frustration... well, I don't think that charities understand that when they ask an artist to donate a painting (especially if the artist is a professional, full time artist), they are actually asking the artist to donate a month of their income. On top of that, often the charities will not offer to cover any expense and expect that the artist will pay for framing and shipping which can come to hundreds of dollars. I honestly believe that charities would have more work of higher quality in their auction list if they offered to cover the artists costs from the sale of the work. Any amount that they make from the sale is better then nothing. But this is not the case... so causes me some grief.
2. A small percentage of other artists
This is the part where I need you to understand that every artist relies on the experience and knowledge of other artists to some extent. We are not alone in this quest to become the best versions of ourselves, and so when we see another artist doing something that draws our inspiration to the surface it is a truly magical thing. I'm not talking about this... in fact I encourage this, which is why I put so much effort into making my progress videos and being as transparent as I can.
What I'm talking about are those artists who start to demand free knowledge from other artists. This could be something that we do unconsciously due to the vast amount of free knowledge available online... but when it becomes a sense of entitlement and you start to look down on artists who might protect their hard learned processes, and treat them as if you are owed something, then you might need to stop and think about it a bit.
I love hearing that something I've shared online has helped another artist figure something out, or have inspired their kids to try harder. But I am baffled when other artists treat me like they are entitled to the materials I post, and that when I don't share something, they get offended.
If I were to explain it a little more bluntly, I don't think Apple would demand that Windows give them the process on their latest developments, and then get all offended when Windows says "...uhhhh.. no?" - what I am talking about here is the attitude behind the request, not the request itself...
I encourage artists to observe and watch what other artists do. Research and experiment, so that you develop your own style based on hints and tricks that you may have seen. Please, don't demand that the artist teach you how to do what they do. Brands such as Golden and Derivan have a whole website dedicated to teaching techniques and tips about their products and how to use them. Those are the sites I have found the most helpful when I've been figuring things out. I am not saying that you can't ask another artist for help, I encourage it and I love helping others, but I'm talking about the attitude behind the request. Are you offended when the artist can't or doesn't help you? Do you have an expectation of another artist that is self-serving or lacking in genuine interest for them above yourself?
3. Artist promoting themselves at another artist's show
This is the last one, I promise... Putting on a show is an expensive affair, and is also a lot of hard work for the artist and curating team to put together. I am shocked to see that other artists shamelessly promote their own work and hand out cards at another artist's show. Let's respect and support each other on this journey as artists. When you are at another artist's show, understand that its not about you and you have no right to steal any attention away from the artist who has poured their blood sweat and tears into the show. If you were the one putting on the show, and saw other artists using all your hard work to market to your guests, I'm pretty sure it would break your heart.
I love being an artist, and being part of a vibrant artist community where we all share our thoughts and lessons learnt. I just hope that we can all learn to respect each other's practice, and also to treat each other like decent human beings, not like knowledge slaves that owe us their skills. We are in this journey together and we need each other equally... no artist is an island, the world is too small and I do not intend to be selfish with my knowledge. But I will be forced to withdraw from sharing things when I feel like I've been misused... I hope it never comes to that.
I say all of this with a heart full of love and genuinely hope that everyone is still smiling at this point.
Thanks for reading