Thursday, May 28, 2009
Working Hard or Hardly Working?
My fortune at the Chinese restaurant last night said, "Chance favors those in motion." I read it to my husband and we both laughed - after all, I've spent the last few months trying to move as little as possible!
Isn't this common sense, though? I think of it as "making luck" - making the effort required to position ourselves where we can take advantage of new opportunities. I'm painfully aware that when I'm not working, I'm not in a position to go anywhere with my art but down. The more effort I put into making and selling my paintings, the more likely I am to get results. Being an artist is not an easy job - it requires commitment and elbow grease.
Alyson Stanfield touched on this in her Deep Thought Thursday blog last week, asking her readers how many hours per week an artist should devote to his or her career, referencing Michael Shane Neal's suggestion of 12-18 hour days.
I usually love reading the responses to Alyson's Thursday questions, and this one was no different - the answer was obviously that there is no answer and that it depends on the artist. I think most agreed, however, that the more time you can put in given your circumstances, the better. But there was one post that implied that anyone who thinks of their art making in terms of time is not an artist, and it got my blood boiling a bit. I might have even fired off a hasty response without taking the time to cool down - hehe...
Suffice it to say, I totally disagree. First of all, it's downright insulting to say someone else is not an "artist" simply because of their working habits. We could argue all day about what is "art" and what is not, but I daresay it has very little to do with whether the artist works 9-5 or in the dead of the night. Second of all, I think this type of attitude can be very dangerous to those who wish to start a career in the arts. There's a misconception that being an artist is fun and relaxing, and the minute things get tough a lot of young artists run for another career.
I know a lot of artists in real life, and they all have different work habits. Some are very regimented and schedule every hour of every day to optimize their art making time. Some are more laid back and work different hours every day, depending on what else is going on. But regardless of style, every artist I know who actually makes a living from their art (meaning does art full time and makes enough money to support themself and often their family) works damn hard. A lot of these guys paint more than 40 hours a week, and then spend 20 hours more working on business and networking. They take their art careers as seriously as anyone else who runs a small business, and it shows.
I have yet to meet an artist who got worse by putting in more hours. Have you?