One of the goals of my art practice is to discuss the realities about being an artist and to dispel myths. One of the biggest ones that I encounter and one of the ones that I find the most frustrating is when people question why I'm not a a full-time artist (i.e., why I am not making a living as an artist). As if it were that easy.
For those few who are able to make a living off of their work are truly blessed but that isn't true for most artists, as this article written in 2017 points out. Even though it is from 2017, not much has changed in two years.
I have a bread and butter job because I need to pay bills, keep a roof over my head and eat. I often invest my own money in my projects. I've been told that I shouldn't tell people that I have a day job because galleries or other art world entities would look down on me for devoting all of my time to making art. I think this is ridiculous when we live in a country that doesn't support or advocate for artists or we live in a culture where people mock the importance of what we do. While I would love to exclusively create for a living, it's not possible. How I can be creative when I have to worry about surviving? This is a reality for so many artists and I think it's silly to dismiss those who work and still come after their day job to create. That's dedication.
Please keep this in mind the next time you are skeptical at how much an artist charges for their work, their prints, and their labor. Please keep this in mind when supporting women artists, especially Black women artists who have it the toughest out of anyone when it comes to recognition and support for their work.
I am grateful for the support that I get from other artists and patrons who support by purchasing prints or donating to my Patreon/Ko-fi accounts. I am thankful to have people who cheer me on and share what I do with others so that they know about what I do. It means more than you could ever know.
Every now and then, other artists contact me after seeing my work on Instagram or other forms of social media asking to if I'd be interested in collaborating with them on a project. While I'm flattered that fellow creatives like my work enough to want to work with me and I love the idea of combining talents to create something new and exciting, it's frustrating when things frequently fall through or don't get off the ground in the first place. I think a lot of energy and time and can be saved if people reaching out kept a few things in mind:
More often then not, I receive the following message on social media:
"Hi! I'm a big fan of your work and would love to collaborate with you. Email/DM me at ______."
Okay, if you are interested in working with someone and want to convince them that its worth their time to do so, the onus is on YOU to reach out via email to contact them. In a day and age where just about everyone has their own website, Facebook page, or social media account, there's no reason why you can't find their contact info and sit down and take the time to write a thoughtful proposal. You shouldn't make the other person chase you down to follow up. More often than not, when I used to actually respond to these fleeting invitations, they often fell through and my responses went unanswered. Not only is this irritating, it makes me question your seriousness in the first place, which leads me to my next point:
This might seem obvious but you'd be amazed how people drop off in the midst of collaboration or even conversation. I don't know what happens (and sometimes there are legitimate reasons for doing so) but it does and once again I question one's seriousness about collaborating. Don't contribute to the flaky artist stereotype; follow through and keep the dialogue going.
Show Up/Stick to Deadlines
I get it; you're busy, I'm busy, we're all busy. That's all the more reason why it's crucial that if you set up a time to meet or are working towards a deadline, please don't cancel or keep changing your mind at the last minute and then cancel/reschedule all the time. It shows a lack of consideration for other's people's time and what they had to do to make time to meet with you. That's why it's important to have a better grasp of your schedule and your ability to commit to a project before you rush into setting deadlines and arranging meetings. It will make life easier for both people.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due:
A few years ago, I decided to co-produce an art show with another artist, who approached me about doing a musical/visual art collaboration. Unfortunately, there were frequent breakdowns in communication and after the exhibition was done, my collaborator chose to take credit for the production instead of recognizing my efforts which were substantial. Needless to say, I wasn't interested at all in working with this person again when they approached me about doing another show and declined.
The idea of behind collaboration is to combine energies and creativities is create something wonderful and new. It shouldn't be a contest or a way of manipulating someone to elevate yourself. Don't be a jerk; give credit where credit is due.
Hopefully these tips will be helpful for you if you're considering reaching out to another artist and will enrich your experience. I guarantee that using these tips will impress your prospective collaborator and help things go much more smoothly. Good luck and happy collaborating!
Over the last few months I've been getting emails, Facebook posts and Instagram inquiries from other people sharing pictures of work that resemble my Inkscapes. A lot of them have been from friends who have posted out of concern that perhaps my images are being ripped off by another artist or some mega-corporation. Other postings have been from complete strangers who may or may not think I have ripped off someone else or are not sure if I am the artist associated with a work done by someone else. While I appreciate that there are people looking out for me and that my work is reaching a wider audience, I have to keep it real: it's really annoying and I wish people would stop doing it. Please allow me to elaborate.
"Sometimes it's back to the drawing board but mostly I try to stay true to what I know and love as there's always room for growth and everyone. I've learned that I wasted valuable time worrying...and less time creating for many years. Don't let this haunt you or you'll go bananas. Go forth."
And that is exactly what I intend to do.