In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings,
popes and the wealthy have provided to artists such as musicians, painters, and sculptors.
Money for art making, not for the final product, but for the act of creating it. For those who know me, and have known me for a long time, my biggest downfall has always been the inability to hold a long term job, one that wasn’t connected with my career of drawing and painting. Like most people in this world, and in all of our history for that matter, people work for money. I work very hard on my art, and I could go into a long discussion about what I consider work and what most people consider work. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I didn’t think it was worthy. But I also understand how the subject of art can be polarizing in terms of it being considered a “real job” or a worthy endeavor at all.
I’ve also discussed with people over the years my feelings towards modern art and my personal taste for more traditional styles. My knee-jerk response to the mention of modern art is always disgust, but it’s also followed by a more mature explanation. For me, modern art’s value is that of conceptualization. Prior to the 20th century, art had become locked into the academic and technical aspects of art making, or in other words – boring. Modern art, in all of its various forms, challenged this way of thinking. Without this part of art history, I doubt my work would have been as interesting. Without the lessons learned from that period, I would have never been taught to challenge my own thought process and develop my work with more depth.
My disgust doesn’t come from modern art as a genre or even the aesthetic value because I enjoy talking about concept and having an occasional “outside the box” discussion about what art is. It, instead, comes from the academic suppression of the technical side of art, the lack of appreciation for visual beauty, and the shaming of those who like what they like because it’s nice to look at. Alongside this century old trend is the rise of The Artist persona and more recently the obsession with branding, which I have gone along with myself to some degree. The artist must perform as entertainer, must create some kind of mystery or intrigue for his/her fans, and must engage constantly or else risk losing their interest. The traditional subdued artist, the quiet introvert who needs time to create, is at an obvious disadvantage.
I want to make art for one reason – passionate curiosity. It’s the reason why I picked up crayons when I was a kid…
I have always had a quiet persona and been uncomfortable with socializing with strangers, especially about my own art. I prefer listening to speaking. I don’t like to say anything unless I have something truly valuable to say, which is an obvious reason I like to work visually. I do my best at posting on social media and “putting my art out there,” but it’s never enough to get the job done. I’ve spent way too much time on building my websites, marketing, and monetizing my brand. Why did I spend all my time doing this? To make money. Not to make lots of money, but just enough to keep making art. I would be just as happy having twenty diehard fans who truly appreciated my work as long as I didn’t have to worry about the business side. It’s been three years since I’ve made a realistic piece of art for a personal project. And that makes me sick.
My animal silhouettes are a little bittersweet for me. I’ve absolutely enjoyed working on the fun designs, but they marked the point where I wandered away from what I truly loved, painting the human figure in my own way, and towards something I needed. I had to, in order to make art that was more affordable and appealing to a wider audience. This is the kind of decision most artist’s have to deal with at different points in their career.
I don’t quite consider myself a freelance artist. Yes, I’ve done some freelance work and commissions, but not many. Over the years, I’ve noticed that freelance work and commissions feel very familiar to something else – smalltalk. Initially, you feign interest, and if the smalltalk is really bad, it’s hard to keep it up. It becomes obvious that your heart isn’t into it, and the conversation suffers. I’m not good at small talk. I freeze, second guess everything, and I can’t concentrate on anything but my mistakes. When I work on projects I have little passion for, I feel like I’m stuck in small talk hell, and my work suffers, more and more over time.
I’m ignoring that overwhelming feeling of guilt because I need to, because I trust that if I ask, if I show people what I can do, and give them a chance to help, they will.
That’s not an acceptable excuse, I know. Artists all of the world are struggling worse than I am and are doing well (and they’re more talented!). I should be able to suck it up, and just take what I can, when I can. I’ll keep trying, although I know my own limits. But this post isn’t about what’s right, it’s just an honest journal entry into what kind of artist I feel I have become over the last 3 years, and I’m embarrassed to write any of it. It still feels honest though which is why I’m writing.
I want to make art for one reason – passionate curiosity. It’s the reason why I picked up crayons when I was a kid, and it was the reason I went to art school. I simply wanted to see what I could do, in my own way, to the absolute best of my ability. That’s what makes me happy, and in turn, that’s what makes my art work well. And I want to get back to that!
I used to feel valuable because I could draw and paint well. Now, with my stagnate work and an internet full of expert artists, I feel mediocre, lost, and therefore worthless. But I’m tired of feeling so negative. I’m still an artist, and I still have ideas. I’m finally ready to get back into the realistic work with a new project, a new series devoted to the subject I love. It’ll be different and push my own limits, but I think it’s worth it. The curiosity and passion has been building for a long time now as I’ve brainstormed and developed new ideas. I’ll explain a little more in a following post sometime in the near future.
I’m emotionally and psychologically ready. Unfortunately, I’m not financially ready. I must continue my animal silhouettes and finding work where I can, but I’m hoping that a new crowdfunding site, Patreon.com, can change that. Finally, fans can help support the artists they love and allow them to concentrate on the creative side instead of just on the moneymaking. It doesn’t take a lot to contribute, but it adds up, and it can mean quite a huge difference for the artist. I’m very excited for the future and what it will mean for the art world.
98% percent of me feels like slime for ever asking for support, but the other 2% understands the history of patronage and the community that values art. I’m ignoring that overwhelming feeling of guilt because I need to, because I trust that if I ask, if I show people what I can do, and give them a chance to help, they will.
Artists, throughout history, have had patrons. The patrons were nobility and the powerful few. Now, in 2014, with crowdfunding taking hold, including Patreon, the patrons are all of us, each supporting the creative people we want to succeed, a little bit at a time. I’m here to ask for support, and to ask that you join me on my next journey.