Monday, April 10, 2006

Walking the fence

Sometimes I feel like I am walking a fence in my career. The fence I refer to here is the one that separates the two very different worlds of illustration and “fine art”. (For me it is more, it is illustration, clothes and other products…anything I enjoy!) Can you serve two masters? I get hung up on this question and then I get stuck. I feel like I am less of a painter because I am drawn to other things as well.

I appreciate both disciplines and am drawn to work in both but I’m not sure how to precede, how to marry the two. When I was in school, these different camps did not agree on much. In fact they seemed to flat out not like or respect each other. I personally found that sad and took classes in both, had friends in both and enjoyed them both. I try to use them to fill different artistic needs and flex different artistic muscles. Sometimes you want to work on your paintings; sometimes you want to do things that are more illustrative. It is great to have both in my opinion.

I have been holding back attempting to pursue illustration jobs for several reasons. First, I am shy about self-promotion. I HATE that about myself but there it is. I need to get over it but that is easier said than done. Second, I am afraid how it will impact my standing with galleries. Perhaps this is a foolish thing to consider but in an industry that loves to label it scares me.

The world of fine art, which I am much more familiar with, has so many rules and judgments. I feel like if I do certain things I am going to isolate myself from this branch of my career. That scares me because I really value being able to show in galleries and hope to do much more of it! To take that portion as far as I can.

That said I also want to increase my income, work in different types of artistic venues and feel like I am listening to all my artistic voices. I guess I am trying to find my niche.

I know I should just let go and make my art. Be true to my vision. Try not to think about how it will be received, who will see it, if they like it, will it sell? These thoughts can get you stuck in your studio afraid to DO anything. Conversely, if you don’t consider the end result, you end up with tons of work in your studio and no food on your table. You see how I chase my tail around here.

I think that is where I have been…HIDING! I have had such a hard year (losing my dad, moving cross country, learning about moving to Africa, and trying to really figure out my career goals) that I think I have been hiding in my studio just working and licking my wounds. I think un-consciously I thought if I just worked hard it would work itself out. That somehow the answer would just come to me. It really hasn’t worked that way.

The amazing, wonderful and talented Laini said to me, “So much depends on luck, but I have found, for myself, that we have to make that luck.”. Well, it is time for me to get out there and try to do just that. Forget the fears, insecurities and potential results. Just make my art, listen to my inner voices and hop down off the fence onto my very own path.

If any of you have thoughts, ideas, advice I’d love to hear it!!! Does anyone else struggle with this??


Blogger Bohemian Girl said...

oh my love...i am giving you a long, warm hug of understanding right now.

something you said in the middle of your writings really spoke to me about your journey. i felt like it was almost the answer hidden among your wonderings...

"Be true to my vision. Try not to think about how it will be received, who will see it, if they like it, will it sell?"

as long as i have known you, you have expressed yourself in everything you do...not just fine art. it is who you are, it is your natural way of being an artist.

i truly believe when you are true to yourself, not trying to "fit" into a mold...that you are at your most happiest.

what Laini said to you was right on.

what about Keith Herring...didn't he do both fine art and illustration? i am sure there are so many others. have you been in touch with Keri Smith (, Penelope ( know they would be helpful on your journey, as they have been for me.

i know if i asked you the same question, you would say..."just be you, do what inspires you".

i know you have the magic touch enough to balance all of your talents: fine art, illustration, clothing, jewelry, writing - - you can, you can...and others will have to just accept it...

...and then fall in love with you and your art.

7:15 PM  
Blogger megg said...

hi there -

believe me, you are not alone. Living with an artist has brought it all home to me - that the 'art' world is not the place that people think it is. It's networking and schmoozing with the right people - people who can be fairly cruel about what they think ART is. It's a lot of work to get your work out there. And sometimes it's hard to remember what you think real art is.

I think that you should follow whichever path you want to the most. Follow the path that makes you want to work and work really hard on making those dreams come true - look at Laini! She was doing something totally different but making those ladies delighted her and she worked on them - worked her butt off - and it happened. You won't know what form it will take, but if you believe in it and you put the effort in, it will happen!

11:43 PM  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

What a beautiful metaphor

May be silly but....what if you went and sat on that fence and just listened. Listen to your gut, trust it.....Go there and sit day after day for a short while, take yourself out of your studio, let the wind blow in your hair the sun shine on your face, the openess and largeness of the field soak in so that the large scope of your art can become comforting as well.

7:41 AM  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

another blogger i read (mati rose) talks a lot about this very struggle. she's in school right now and feels the pull to put herself in one catagory or the other. since i don't work in the art field i don't have much of an understanding to the dynamics but a lot of what you mention here i've heard her say too. you might enjoy her blog and touching base with her.

9:30 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

like michelle, the
first person i thought of
was mati rose...

i wish i could offer more advice
than that...but i don't really
know alot about either field
so can't really offer much more
than an a sympathetic ear....

loved how you worded what you wrote

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi-- just came over here from Laini's site--

I just spent four days at Artfest and during one of the nights when the teachers (all artists) share parts of their journey someone said, "art school can really kill out your ability to be you" and I hear that in what you've written.

fine arts and all their rules are nice-- but you have something to express that can only come through you. YOU. so there are no rules for it-- because it doesn't exist until you put it out there--

don't wait for permission. or hell GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION-- you have the gift-- make the art you dream of making-- everything else will follow.

peace to you,


12:23 PM  
Anonymous amy said...

You are not alone, although my struggle isn't exactly the same as yours, I know that feeling of having two masters. Your heart is split in two, even though to you they aren't seperate at all, but deeply intertwined. I think you have the right attitude, listen to those inner voices and make your own path--a truly brave and inspired way to approach life.

1:45 PM  

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