Making Art

Bringing Art Making Into Your Life

Pain and pleasure: on being an artist.

Artists come from all walks of life, and sometimes we hide our artistic sides to fit in, or  bury our urges to make a living.

I read an article  the paper this morning about Tony Abbott [leader of the opposition party] visiting Australian troops in Afghanistan yesterday. The article said he delivered  footballs and cricket gear for Christmas presents. I have no problem with this, backyard cricket is a bit of an Aussie tradition, but my first thought was: I’d rather get some paints and a sketch book. Now clearly this is ridiculous, as I am not a soldier and would die of fright the first time I heard a bullet shot, but it did make me think how much we pigeon-hole people. We assume that the tough guys [and gals] fighting in wars are only interested in sports and other manly pursuits. [ And lets not forget the work of countless  brave war photographers, correspondents and artists letting us know what was really happening.]  The people who like to make art are all sorts of different people.

And we make it for all sorts of different reasons.

Over the years I have often thought about giving up making art and trying to do something sensible. Make some money. And how most artists’ parents wish they would do something else! How much sniping and general shit some of us put up with to make art. But I know it would just never work, I would always have that urge to make art. I have been given LOADS  of [unsolicited] advice on what I should be doing instead…. someone once suggested that, because I am creative I should design handbags….. What the hell?

  1. No fashion training
  2. No interest.
  3. Since when did designing a handbag fulfill an urge to paint something meaningful?
  4. Just because I am a woman it doesn’t mean I have an all encompassing love for accessories.


Above: Meat Purse by artist Sarah-Jane Lynagh.  This is the only kind of handbag I would ever be inclined to make. According to the website,  Lynagh’s work “revolves around a cluster of issues chief among which are sexuality, death, identity, abjection, the monstrous feminine and loss.” Oh how I love an artist! A shitload more interesting than most handbags.

But yes over the years I have had a number of nutty jobs to get money, and at some point I fell into the design world and found myself designing websites. The next thing I know is I am pretty unhappy. [No it’s not a bad job, it’s fine, and over the years I have had some fantastic clients, but there is no love.] And all the while I am stuffing away what I really want to do.

Most artists do not make art to make money, but most of us wish we could. unfortunately the point where making money meets making art don’t coincide all that often. Occasionally I do meet a really commercially minded artist and I am always bemused. I met a guy a couple of weeks ago when he was gallery-sitting for his own exhibition. When I walked in he asked me if I made art and I said I did, mostly sculpture at the moment. He launched right into a discussion about the fact that it was hard to move [sell] sculpture because people find it hard to put in their homes, and went on to describe how he did his work and what sold the best and the suburbs it sold the best in. I’m not sure if I was appalled or impressed. Maybe both. I found his work attractive but empty [like a pretty wallpaper]. He certainly knew what he was talking about, and he was making a living doing something he enjoyed so I guess good luck to him. But I just don’t/can’t make work  because it’s going to match someones couch. I would enjoy that about as much as I enjoy designing websites, which is not much.  I make the things I make because they talk to me. They call me. The ideas pop into my head and grow. If I don’t let them out they fester away.

And I think that’s the way it is for most artists. Maybe some people want to make art because they think its cool but most artists just have a desire to create something out of nothing.

We give up a lot sometimes to be artists: respect, money, time, but we also gain a lot.

The fun and satisfaction of making, the occasional admiring comment. But most of all we get that we gave life to an idea or a form that didn’t exist before.

A character in the Jack Taylor detective show said about the detective, that he was;

” A skilled finder of lost things, hidden things, truths”.

This is how I feel about artists: we find things people don’t know they are looking for and we get to understand things others never see.

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This entry was posted on December 14, 2012 by in Art, Inspiration and tagged , , , .
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