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Don’t Be An Artist

The entire book is on the home page. Chapter comments below from a previous edition.


This really resonates with me. I've been fighting all my life to avoid labels and try to define myself by my actions. I like the concept of explaining my identity without using the phrase "I am". -Elise

Kiko - Thank you for expressing so eloquently the mess in my heart.   I grew up in a house where my mother was a painter, sculpter, etc. When I was little we'd go to galleries or to paint on location. I remember coming home from school and finding a neighbor woman sitting on a stool topless and my mother sketching her. I knew the word chirascuro by 3rd grade and could apply it to my drawings. And then in 3rd grade I got a "B" on a drawing and found out I was being judged. In high school I was still taking art classes, but had learned to give the teachers what they wanted. Knowing I couldn't (tongue in cheek) make a living doing art I found other work. I finally went back to school almost 15 years later to get a BA in Studio Art, I thought I'd get a MFA and teach art at the college level. After the Bachelers degree grad school was USC for my MFA because of the "free money". By the end of my first year I could no longer sculpt or draw without bursting into tears - I'd let them distroy me. I changed schools and got an MS in Psychology and became a licensed Marriage, Family Therapist, a job I hated. That was almost 20 years ago. I'm now doing real estate and because of the economy not making much of a living. All those times I've heard, "You can't make a living doing art." Well you know what, you can't make a living denying your soul. If you're passion is beauty and art - do it anyway, at least you'll feel whole and connected. And I know many artist now who make enough or more than enough money to be happy.Keep doing what you're doing.  Annie

Annie - thank you for sharing this experience.  As I read your story, my emotions were shifting with the progression of your time line.  You left a very powerful message towards the end. I'm an "emerging" artist but I think that term is one that I have decided to apply because my skill of realizing ideas through digital art, has not reached a certain caliber. In other words, I'm waiting...for what? I don't know.  I have pulled away from full time work in retail to explore this, reduced hours, reducing materialism, focusing on the inner-work.  The ego wants recognition for my work  but hopefully I get to a point where my self-esteem is high enough to realize my value without looking for affirmation from others. All I really want is to have an impact on others lives, especially within my own community.  Over the course of two years I have decided to sacrifice the financial returns of work but a sense of insecurity still lingers.  Money goes out to support the cost of building my skills (e.g., materials, classes, etc.) but it feels like a crutch. I'm saying to myself, "Once I have all these materials I can realize the vision,"or I am still a "student" so I don't have the skills yet for the craft. This burdens some of the process and therefore my excitement to practice my craft changes with the wind.  I think this is because of my lack of self-esteem and not realizing my value as an artist now.  In other words, being and progressing as an artist, is an expression of "me," and developing self-worth.  It would appear that working on building or enhancing self-esteem would benefit all of us.  Nathan

I really enjoyed this article and the comments, and I feel that you are agreeing with the definition of "artist" that I heard somewhere once, that an artist is also "one who lives artistically" (or beautifully), as well as: is "one who creates art for a livihood". That being said, the definition for "beauty" could be said to be "truth", as not all artwork is beautiful (some is "ugly" and provacative intentionally in hopes of causing us to reexamine some inequities and injustices about our world that we'd rather not see). Also, "art" to me refers in a broad sense to creations in music, literature, theater, architecture, landscape architecture as well as actions and words between people (kind words, loving deeds, all that sort of stuff). For myself, I prefer broadening the definition, which seems like where you're going with this.

After all, if you don't have beauty of all kinds in this life, what is the purpose of life at all? Art and beauty are meant to "please the eye and gladden the heart" (to borrow a phrase), and I don't understand the attraction of all the coarseness and unpleasantness between people to the contrary. What are people thinking?? Who really enjoys arguing instead of love?

I arrived at this approach to art fairly early in life after watching my father, who was a very talented portrait artist, have to "prostitute" his abilities to support his family (working as a technical illustrator in the aerospace industry). His jobs and deadlines robbed him of the joy and passion he used to take in art when he was a single person living in a studio apartment (before marrying). After putting on the "harness" he rarely did anything of a finer artistic nature, only when pressured by people, (mostly my mother, to make a few extra bucks) and this he grew to resent also as extra stress. I applaud the folks who can stay true to their inner muse and create art that comes from the soul (and resist the temptation to play to the crowd) and still support themselves financially, but think there are more people out there with talent than there is the financial market for their artwork or creations (because we're chasing things of no value, and also some of the public have such poor taste, unfortunately, and demand crass art). This is why I think people are meant to transform and broaden their definition of "artist", as you have done, and put all that raw ability to good use. So thanks Kiko, and thanks for providing the feedback forum so that we can share what your writing has triggered in us! I will have to read more!

I like etymologies because, as you say, they broaden our definitions and our understanding. For example, "argue" shares a common root with Argentina, so named for the silver ore in the ground ("argentum" in Latin). In French, the word for white clay is "argille"-- which also leads back to the Latin word "arguere," "to make clear, or demonstrate." White clay, of course, was a primary pigment for transforming surfaces from dark and dirty to clean and white. When I first learned this and told my wife that "argue" was related to the French word for white clay, she said, "yeah, it's sticky." I guess it's a bit of both, since it's easy to bogged down by everyone else's definition. But art as technique and skill makes much more sense to me than art as object, also because you don't need money to "live by art." In fact, living with less money requires more art -- and a greater appreciation for beauty. thanks for the comments; more essays posted -- including one about money.-- Kiko

I am not a native English speaker. I would like to say that this is a very good article. I  do not follow the way of design. But I would like to follow the way of sounds and words. I might be following the way of learning. If a teacher could called so. Thanks for your ideas. They are great. Gregorio CastilloCuracao

Dear Gregorio, It seems to me that each of our ways will be as different from each other as we are. Good luck finding yours. I do appreciate your comments -- new essays just posted. -- Kiko

Thanks Kiko. Beautiful essay!,        10-10-11My practice is of  spirit, art and science of earthcare and regeneration practiced at Home. Home is everywhere. Welcome Home!  Much love to the whole family.RE Hogan,,come build a life and a village....