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How to feel Miserable as an Artist

May 27, 2009

From as far as a I can remember I was drawing things and entering school contests and more often than not winning. It might sound like I’m tooting my own horn but in a class of 25 it wasn’t too difficult to win art contests. My painting career began somewhere in my early teens with an all inclusive set bought from Bob Ross. My dad and I quickly became the best landscape artists around. Of course our paintings all looked exactly like Bob’s. But we loved them anyway! In university I fast realized that being stuck in an uninspiring art studio was not how I wanted to create art. I didn’t keep one painting I created in university. I realized that in the world was where I wanted to be…with a camera.

As I was reading Annie Leibovitz At Work I read a few sentences that described this time in my life perfectly,

“Photography seemed like a faster medium than painting. Painting was isolating. Photography took me outside and helped socialize me. I felt at home in the rooms where the photography students worked. There were a lot of angry expressionists in the painting studios. I wasn’t ready for abstraction. I wanted reality.”

That was when the artist inside of me started to be realized. Being a photographer to me is one in the same as being an artist. If you are already a photographer and you want to be great you must realize the artist in you. Stop hiding, learn how to express yourself through your medium and bring it out for the world to see!

Today I found this great list of ‘How to Feel Miserable as an Artist’ from Promise Tangeman’s blog.

1. Constantly compare yourself to other artists.
2. Talk to your family about what you do and expect them to cheer you on.
3. Base your success of your entire career on one project.
4. Stick with what you know.
5. Undervalue your expertise.
6. Let money dictate what you do.
7. Bow to societal pressures.
8. Only do work that your family would love.
9. Do whatever the client/customer/gallery owner/patron/investor asks.
10. Set unachievable overwhelming goals to be accomplished by tomorrow.

I’m guilty of 2, 6, 9 and 10. Which ones are you?

Here’s a photo of my son hiding from visitors during our early days in Australia. By the end of our month away he was hugging everyone he met. Be like him and come out from under the table, get your camera and be the artist you’re meant to be.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Blair permalink
    May 27, 2009 5:3 3

    GUILTY !!! 1,2,3,5,6,8,9,10….. especially #10

    i’m such a loser, i think i’ll just stay inside today.

    Just kidding, thanks so much Charla, it’s a great reminder of what to not do. I’m inspired as always by your business savvy and genuine love for all Art.

  2. May 27, 2009 5:3 3

    Thanks for sharing Blair! I knew you couldn’t be guilty of #4!

  3. Beulah permalink
    May 28, 2009 5:3 3

    Charla, keep up ‘your good work”. But, I have to add………..I have seen some beautiful paintings that you have done. You are talented.

  4. LoriMoss permalink
    May 28, 2009 5:3 3

    Hmm Charla, you are the only family member I talk to about photography, but I do compare myself to others, and of course throw in the occasional #10 for good measure!

  5. candace permalink
    May 30, 2009 5:3 3

    wow. i needed to read that list. in fact, i’ve copied it and put that copy in my guitar case so that it stares me in the face everyday. thanks for sharing your list and your journey, you inspire….as usual.

  6. June 8, 2009 5:3 3

    Unfortunately I’m guilty of all of them, especially 1 and 10. It’s incredibly frustrating most days.

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