I should not be, yet I am often surprised, and so are they, when my business hires an Intern or I take on an apprentice, by the lack of preparedness for the real world. However competent, skilled or inherently talented, a chasm lay between them and success as a professional artist.
Objective statement rather than subjective expression. Turning perception based on sensual experiences into descriptors based on factual elements and principals. Regardless, it wasn’t a good critique session if someone didn’t run crying or screaming in frustration from the room.
Such was the artistic critique process in which my academic training was tested. Yet for all the discipline and dedication to the hallowed precepts of art, nothing can compare to that which every professional artist must face on a nearly daily basis – Real World Critique. While I believe wholeheartedly in the exploration and training of academic and other classical education methods, the publish or perish practices amongst colleagues has its own set of stress factors yet does not stand the pressure of the creation of works in the trenches outside the protective halls of academia.
If you are exploring the purpose of art as being that of expression, then upon creation your work is done, critique is unnecessary because expression has already occurred. Yet for most artists the purpose of art goes at least one step further – that of interaction. How a patron or public interacts, interprets and therefore judges one’s work comes into play.
How an artwork stands up to the Elements and Principles is vital, for without these skills set within muscle memory an artist is unable to explore freely. Just as scientific method frees an astrophysicist to look for new answers and possibilities, an artist uses critique methodology during creation to allow deeper expression – adding depth to the foundation of design and therefore to the experience of the patron through the story that is an artist’s work. Therefore it is, I believe, an inherent necessity that I as an artist take the influence of the real world into account not only in my work but more importantly in the business end of being an artist. Just as everything I do as an artist through expression is a story being experienced, everything I do as an art business is marketing.
What is Real World Critique compared to Academic. It is many things – varied, cruel and yet that for which many artists hunger. As simple as does a work sell to as complicated as why a patron adds a work to a collection or builds a collection based on a specific artist. Real World Critique takes academic critique, adds steroid rage and determines the success or failure of the professional artist. Use and practice of this muscle memory along with the experiences of the trenches, enables an artist to compete in the real world. Natural talent and nurtured skill is all that stands between an artist and the brute force of Real World Critique. Add trending fashions, tax write-offs for superficial patrons and even the intricacies of networking and marketing and you have a veritable legion of critique factors influencing what it is to be a successful artist before you are dead. Starving is one thing – romantic and all that, but an artist not only does but should get tired of Ramen and seek more from their journey and life’s work.
This is one reason why I am unapologetic about having a jewelry Line. Though production, it remains handcrafted and my work affordably accentuates the human form of thousands of patrons on a daily basis. It pays the bills, thus freeing me to explore greater story and expression. In doing so promotes and supports my artistic endeavors just as an academic professor’s lecturing or the gallery patronage of a painter supports theirs.
Real World Critique is inevitable for the professional artist. Talent and training, the nature and nurture of an artist’s world, only get you so far. To go beyond occasional success to thriving as an artist, one must be businessperson and marketing rep, responsible crafter and efficient producer, story teller and packaging expert – experience counts. But don’t let this baffle or depress you. Grab on with both hands and enjoy the ride.