In the past year I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an artist. Can one become an artist? Is one born an artist? Are we an artist simply because we make art? Or is it more about a state of mind and having a certain consciousness about the world around us? Is it a lifestyle first, or a perspective on life that inevitably grows into a lifestyle over time? I don’t pretend to be an expert on art—I’m actually far from it. So that’s never what this blog is ever going to be about.
I’ve blamed a lot of things in my life on being an “artist”. It’s the reason I have such high ups and low downs and only sometimes find a comfortable in between. It’s the reason I can’t get up early but find myself in my element at 3am. It’s the reason I have mad bursts of energy and inspiration and won’t sleep for two days, but then lie in my bed for the next three unable and unwilling to do anything. It’s the reason I want to do everything and nothing all at the same time, all the time.
But I also have this sporadic rhythm to thank for every single thing I have accomplished in my life so far.
There are so many stereotypes and stigmas that come with labeling yourself an artist. There are obviously at least a handful of stereotypes that come along with labeling yourself as anything at all, and I think that’s obviously a really unfortunate thing. One of the ideas I have struggled with most in the past year is why people feel the need to force others into fitting themselves into one category to make it easier for other people to understand them. It can limit us, to begin identifying with primarily one thing, and beginning to think that it’s the only thing we can be or have to offer. I identify hugely as an artist, but I feel there are so many other things I am capable of doing that maybe don’t fit in with what we’d traditionally expect from an “artist”. Being an artist these days, I believe, can mean so much more than what we tend to think of as what “being an artist” entails. But that’s just the type of thinking I would like to change. Making art shouldn’t be any less authentic because the artist has other motivating factors driving them as well, or has other things to offer in a different field, or one they might be less known for.
I experienced a strange dilemma this past year in the final year of my Undergraduate degree. I’ve just come out of studying Fine Art for 3 years at one of the top Universities in Canada, and despite always comfortably thinking of myself as an artistic and creative person, I have never felt so out of place for such a long period of time. Attempting to study the one thing I always found came truly naturally to me made me reassess a lot of what I believe and what I want to do with my life. I respect my school and my program hugely, but it was always clear, as it probably is in many dignified fine art programs, that “Art for Art’s sake” is the purest, most genuine ideology you should adopt to help guide you in your future artistic endeavours.
I struggled with this a bit, because I recently accepted an offer of admission to what I believe could be my “dream” Masters program in Berlin, Germany, in Art Direction + Management and Innovation for Creativity and Business. I am graduating a year early from my Undergraduate program to embark on this new journey, and while that scares me hugely, it also feels like the right next move. However, it makes me sad that some might look at this as me “selling out” as an artist, when I see it as quite the opposite.
In 2017, I believe we as Millennial artists have the opportunity to redefine what it means to be a flourishing artist in the modern world. I believe we can stay true to our artistic roots, our unique streams of thought, and our artistic and personal integrity, while finding innovative ways to let our art live and grow in this new modern, practical, and technological world. Like never before, there is a place for art in pop culture, in business, in main stream media, and in consumer society.
Art, in my opinion, more often than not, is just about people. It’s about making sense of relationships, all kinds of them, and the dynamics that exist between you and others, you and the world, and you with yourself.
I know that at the very least, this is what my art is all about, and expressing myself through art is the only way I know how to process information and deal with experiences I’ve had. To me, that is art for art’s sake.
But being able to find ways to make that art accessible to everyone, and to make content that others might hugely be able to find themselves in and relate to through any number of the different forms of expression we now have available to us, is to me, pretty “practical art”. And it still holds just as much worth and value, regardless of its outcome or maybe even its commercial value.
What I am trying to create here, is a platform to talk about the experiences and the people I encounter, the relationships in my life, the questions I have, and all the things I see and feel all the time, and to try and make sense of what on earth they all mean in the bigger picture through the only true way in which I process anything; through art. I think to me, put in the simplest of terms, life is all about consistently processing, evaluating, and reflecting on every experience and every relationship you have with the purpose of being a more conscious person tomorrow. And sharing this on a public platform with an audience through any way that you can, is exciting, uncomfortable, and somehow feels like exactly what art should be.
So, I would say that this blog is going to be as little about selling the old romantic idea of being a starving artist, as it will be about “selling out”. It’s also going to be a lot less about art in itself than it will be about people, places, love, opportunity, and just life in general.
If you’ve already made it this far and anything in this first article has sparked your interest, you should definitely stick around. There is loads to come. x