Assumptions made about Artists

So, I have encountered a lot of assumptions in the last decade or so, usually by people who would not be buying expensive carpets anyway, so I don’t pay too much attention.

The number one assumption is that in order to be an artist, you cannot also be anything else.

This is rubbish, for a variety of reasons.  For one thing, my father was also an artist, and although he did it for a living, warned me off ever doing it for a living.

This was because he wasn’t actually all that happy working commercially, and felt that doing quite as much work for other people compromised his time to do anything self motivated.  Hence he said to do anything but art, and let the compulsion dictate how much I did.

In my case the compulsion was largely repression led, hence the number of male peers and large scale themes.  I don’t find your everyday codependence very interesting, so nobody that I have actually had a relationship with has ever featured heavily in my work.  It is always a superficial flirtation, often with someone I don’t even feel a relationship would ever work out with.

In any case, I think he was right.  I would be heavily diluted if I actually had to do it for money, so it is worth it to me to be free to say whatever I want.

The number two assumption is that you are a parasite and funded by some mysterious art god.

This is entirely untrue. I have always been self funded, and the reason I can afford to be self funded is because art is the only thing that actually matters.  I work in order to pay to do more work, essentially.  It devours any sense of style, love of entertainment or whatever because it is not only the thing, it is the only thing.

The number three assumption is that you are known therefore you are wealthy.

This one is quite funny.  For one thing it takes staggering effort to be known, and staggering self belief, which if we want to be any good, we don’t actually have.

I have two friends on Facebook, Philmy Reyes and Sandeep Sinde.  Both of them make more money than I do.

Philmy does rapid crude drawings of personal photographs and makes at least four thousand a week, and Sandeep makes philosophical statements in the form of drawing around his hand and turning it into a chicken.

They are also both far more well known than I am.  I am more in the exclusive quirky market, and promotion consists of the free books.  I don’t take the writing terribly seriously, it is mainly to get more pics of artwork out and balance the brain, however it is interesting sometimes.

The fourth assumption is that you are elitist

Whilst being elitist is a good idea from the perspective of price and claiming to do something unique and special, it is not at all necessary.  The people most interested in my work are not the buyers, but people that pass me in the street.  My perspective is that art is life itself, and because I put no pressure on myself to earn, this is more of a process of self development than assumption that I do something nobody else can do.

On the contrary, whilst my perspective turns out to be rather singular, my work is very childlike and simple, and there is no reason why people could not do it themselves.

The original purpose was to engage an entire village to up the volume at some point, and whilst life has not gone in that direction so far, the work is still possible without electricity.  This is less relevant than it was when I started, hence the investment in automation.

I find artists who believe in finicky technicalities and exclusivity in terms of skill are often the most insecure, which isn’t great for their wallet.

Having said that, I have been perfecting what to some is a basic craft form for three decades, so I am sort of guilty of this too.  Far better to put out work you aren’t in love with and make a living, I guess.

The fifth assumption is that art has to elevate your perception.

This is a dangerous one because it stops you working.  Art is a visual representation of the intangible idea.  That idea can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

The sixth assumption is you have to talk bullshit.

No you do not have to waffle in a pretentious and complex way to describe what you do.  That is also up to you.  You may sell more if people feel they are struggling to understand, I have no idea, but I really doubt it.

As Twisty used to say – art is untold misery and extreme emotion that happens to look nice in someone’s dining room.

Not necessarily, sometimes it just describes a feeling, but he wasn’t wrong.


The seventh assumption is that it has to be original.

I found an American artist who had completely ripped off this teapot, made it in cotton fabric and changed the name very slightly in an art magazine this week.  I was very pissed off, but there is very little you can do.

Anyway, that is enough for today.




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