Artist's have ideas! That's what I was told today. Of course we have ideas whether we're working for others or for ourselves. Let me explain.
Through a "call for entries" a local city is promoting painted artwork that is sponsored by local businesses. Just as there were cows in Chicago, etc. this art event features painted fiberglass fish. Each artist submits an "idea" and the various sponsors select the idea they like best, financing the artists work. The artwork (fish) are then placed on the street in the community and subsequently auctioned off at the end of summer.
Today's press meeting at a prop house near Belle Isle, Detroit was a gathering for the artists and sponsors to meet. And for the artists to collect their fishes for painting. It was fun to meet other artists and hear what their ideas are for their fish! It's a doubly good thing as artists always like to "play", get paid to play and the locality gets some fun art promotion!
On the way out of the event with fiberglass fish endow in the back of the van I roamed 'round Belle Isle as I was told there was an aquarium there. As it seems I'm entrenched in all things "fishy" (at present also working on a child's room mural of under the sea complete with coral reef and its inhabitants) I went looking for some live inspiration.
Upon finding the aquarium I noticed 3 chaps standing outside the building. With a closer look I noticed they carried sketchbooks. They informed me that the aquarium had been shut for years. I asked if they were artists? Of course they were and what good luck, I'm an artist too! I burbled out about the fish in the back and what it was for only to find that the oldest of the trio, an art professor at the local university rather had a different take on my, shall we say, "artistic enthusiasm"!
He approached the car and told me that painting fiberglass animals was distasteful to him artistically. He also counseled that artists have ideas and that painting these things were degrading to fine artists!
Hrumph! I say. Told the man that I've been making my living as an artist for over 20 years. When the paid work gets done, then I can make anything "fine art" I want. As he tried to back pedal a bit saying that I didn't understand him, I reminded him that this is an age old conversation where fine artist's turn their noses up at anyone making a living as an artist, such as, illustrators, scenics, muralists, graphic artists, etc. Isn't the current trend toward graphitti art now being touted as high art?
Driving off I kept thinking, is this what they're teaching students in art school? It's as if these newly minted independent artists wouldn't sully their hands on a paying gig. So that must mean that for each artist that is brainwashed by this line of tripe will have to have an art patron or someone to support them. They will have the idea that they are entitled to be rich and famous for their vision.
While it is true that each artist has their own unique vision, what's wrong with getting paid to paint or make what someone else wants? How is that stealing art from you? Each artist can always make what they want. No one can take away our own vision for ourselves, but this warped line of thinking is going to create more disappointment than it is art.
Aspiring to greatness is the ambition of many in the art world. Who wouldn't like to be praised for their art and command top dollar to collectors? I dream about such things but in the meantime I spend as much time, paid or otherwise working at art as the breathe to my life. It is all grist for the mill, fuel for the fire. I cannot believe that a young art student wouldn't want paid practice to paint, sculpt, etc.
I think its time to kick over the traces and teach artists that the opportunities for art are both the exhibitions and in paid projects, commissions and yes, even silly fiberglass fish!