>George Clooney is coming to town. More than 4000 people filled the shopping-mall-turned-art community this weekend, hoping to be cast as one of the extras in his new movie, to be filmed in St. Louis. My studio is in the old mall, and I got to watch the spectacle.
Since the casting call would bring so many people to this new art space, we were asked to have our studios open. I complied. And spent the day bursting dreams.
Well, I probably didn’t, but that’s what it felt like.
First, let me say that I am a believer in sharing information and encouraging people. There are so many people who helped me — are STILL helping me — and I want to return the favor.
What I cannot do is give someone a short cut. Sometimes folks don’t want to hear the truth.
There were no fewer than two dozen young people — under 30 — who walked into my studio on Saturday and wanted a job, wanted an intership, wanted to know the secret of success, wanted to know why they couldn’t sell their art, wanted to know — well, you get the idea.
Don’t be mistaken — I’m not a art guru and I certainly don’t look like I know the secrets of life. I was just there — and apparently approachable. I was certainly happy to stop what I was doing to talk to them.
I was shocked by a number of things:
- Not one of these people was prepared with any information about themselves. A couple seemed put off when I suggested that they email me their resume and samples of their work.
- There was a lot of negativity in their attitudes: it’s hard to break in, I don’t have any money, no one will give me a chance. Did they mistake me for their mother or their girlfriend?
- They really didn’t want to hear my answers.
- They wanted quick fixes.
I know times are tough. I haven’t forgotten that when you’re young and starting out, times are always tough. And I might be wrong, but I got the distinct impression that most of these people were used to be given what they wanted… until now.
Here’s what I told each one of them:
- There is no quick way to life as an artist. You have to work at it. All the time.
- Get the education you can afford. Learn from everyone. Learn from everything.
- Teach what you know.
- Be willing to take chances.
- Show only your BEST work.
- Enter your best work in juried exhibits. Find out if you’re really as good as you think you are.
- Don’t be afraid of competition. There’s always somebody who’s better than you. Learn from them.
- Achieve the excellence you admire.
- You might not be able to have everything right now. There are decisions to make: cable or art supplies?
- Don’t copy somebody’s else’s work or style. Find your own vision. Find your own voice.
- Come to grips with the fact that you might have to support yourself with other work while your art evolves.
- Don’t assume you the world owes you any recognition. There are LOTS of talented people out there.
- Be responsible for your own success.
- Be grateful to people who help you.
- Be generous to people who need your help.
- It’s ok to complain and gripe about how hard this is. My friends hear it from me all the time. But stop it there– with friends. That’s what they’re for! To the rest of the world, show your confidence, and your willingness to work hard and take risks.
- Failure looks like failure. Success looks like success.
There are no short cuts to a successful artist’s life. There are no short cuts to any successful life.