Thursday, May 17, 2007

Parent Company

One of my professors in undergrad once commented that in order to be a successful, mobile and well-known artist one should fit all or most of the following criteria: 1.) Be independently wealthy or have had your schooling entirely paid for and have no debts. 2.) Be willing to move all over the world and relocate at a moment's notice, and 3.) Not be married, or, barring, that, not have any children holding you back at least until you're well established.

I fit none of these criteria and I'm curious about the rest of you- especially those of you who are parents. I have a two-year-old boy and another baby due in July. I'm constantly maneuvering to juggle work, family and art-making obligations. In order to get art projects done, I have to steal time that I would otherwise spend relaxing or doing something else. It has definitely changed the way I work and the way I think about making work.

Parents, I'd like to hear your strategies for balancing out work, family and art-making time. Perhaps we could share time-saving and/or creative parenting tips. I'd also like to find out how many stay-at-home dads might be out there. How has being a parent changed or affected the way to approach your art?


Byron said...

define successful?

I believe if you are involved in the process that you are a success.

It's hard enough to keep at it.

To worry about selling and becoming well-known is too much to handle. Why does an artist need that to be successful? Why do you? Do you? Do I?

Questions to ponder...

Roman Bradley said...

I'm going to tell you what you already know. the teacher is mental.
you can have a family and raise children and be a successful artist. maybe not in a newly revitalized community, maybe you will have to travel now and then, but if your going to be a successful artist the most important thing to have is children. Art is property, having children gives that property to a caretaker, by right of lineage.
fast money isn't always smart money.

What artists need to make their artwork important and lasting and valuable is an estate.

this is real time, bricks and mortar, family planning at it's best.

Pollock's work was sidelined until
Krassner picked up the pieces and moved onto creating an estate. De Kooning's paintings were'nt anything without an estate.

There are books on the subject.
Before anything the artist does becomes important the artist himself has to make it important.
trusts, wills, private collections,
a small circle of trusted advisors,
writers, important publications, copyrights trademarks etc are all needed to really capitolize on the ouvre of the artists work.

Do not listen to some washed up bowery bum. Those that can do do, and those that can't do teach.

Artists create and excite their own values. They gentrify whole blocks of real estate. people buy works low and loan for more than they bought the works.

Be confident in the fact that your a talented artist who has children, a lineage and those you can teach to care for and make plans for your estate. Now the questions are how important are your paintings, and what's the best venues for them?
What kind of education is best suited for your children so that they will understand and appreciate the value of your work?

It's a long process.It might be a bumpy road. Sometimes fame and fortune are not better than a lifetime of family, friends and creating beautiful art.

Take the hard times as they come.
Your an artist, artists can endure alot of stuff.

If you feel you need to take a break that doesn't mean your not an artist.

anxiety and a feeling to get it while you can is not permanent. The beauty of Art is always permanent.

Everyone has their downtimes and their uptimes.

Jaime Verde said...

I feel I am succeeding at doing what I set out to do long ago- no question. I have a masters degree, I teach as much as I can, and I have a loving and supportive family. I always planned on having a family. Its teaching me an awful lot about life and everything. In that way it's expanding the scope of my work and reaffirming why I do things in certain ways.

I'm just interested in sharing actual strategies that other parents use to maintain their obligations to their art. Because it's a huge issue in my life, I figured it was so in others' lives too.

It's worth noting that of the well-known working contemporary artists I've met at lectures in grad school and while working at the MOCA, the criteria my old professor outined seems pretty close to describing many of them. Especially the no kids thing.

Zac Freeman said...

I think you can skew the formula to look like whatever you want and I totally disagree with what your professor said.

The thing I've noticed about successful artist already there, and ones on there way up, is that all walks of life are represented. There's the blessed with extreme success right out of college, the street bum hooked on heroin, the family guy going to jr's soccer practice, and every mixture of those. They're all in there and the path to reach the success you want is yours alone.

Here's another formula for success in the art world, maybe at a mid-career stage. I don't know why, but this one makes me laugh. "The Whitney museum may say that Wanda Whoever is the next big thing, but only the sustained investment of money, journalism, exhibition space, scholarly prose, foundation awards, loose talk and casual body language can maintain Wanda's work in public esteem." -Brett Sokol, The Miami Herald

As far as managing time. When I was forced to do most of my work between 8pm and 2am (and I bet your window is even more narrow), I always imagined myself in a Rocky-type music montage. You know, grunt it out for months, put'n in all the work necessary 'cause this is my shot man! Next thing you know I'd been asleep for 30 minutes with a paint brush in my hand.

Byron said...

Definitely agree. The professors opinion sounds a bit negative and tainted. What about Grandma Moses? Silly example but it takes all types.

The time and space in your mind is all you really ever have anyway.

When I was in the Army I might have not been making art while in formation or cleaning a latrene but I was collecting concepts and life experiences that will influence me for the rest of my life.

I believe the artist is always working. The mind is where the work really happens. Take away the physical studio (aka garage) and you'll always have your mind. If the time and space to make the physical works that you would like to make are not there, maybe you shold redirect your concepts and adjust them to the time and space that you actually do have? To me concepts are stronger than any amount of work on a canvas or a bronze sculpture. There is something to be said for craftsmans hip but if there is no substance behind it then it's a waste of time and energy. Yours and mine?

I believe what you are going through James is absolutely amazing. When I was going through my wife's pregnancy with her I felt more inspired than ever. If you don't have the time to do the work via visual art I suggest using words. You are a very gifted writer and I'm sure you could communicate your ideas in writing much more directly to the viewer than via printmaking or drawing. And you could definitely get them across much quicker than going to a print lab.

I feel you though James. It's hard. There's not enough time in the day for it all. I set realistic goals.

Dana and I have one day a week to ourselves. No baby duties. I have Saturday. I do whatever I want and if I need to work on my work I do all day. I also have about two hours a night that I can focus on the mission at hand.

I've always tried to do at least one positive thing for my artwork a day. One thing. That's not too much to ask. If you need to get some .jpegs together for a gallery, or you need to work on a new series. one thing. one thing in the right direction. one step in the right direction.

Midnight comes really quickly. And the morning evern quicker.

hang in there James. I feel you.


Jaime Verde said...

Thanks, I think.

I cobble together time in the evenings and while I'm helping students in the studio. I get a stray day or two here and there, and if I'm prepared I can even work during naptimes. The problem is carving out a regular routine.

Yes, Zac, i would agree that that professor's perspective was negative at that instance. As a young student I didn't need to hear it. Obviously his words didn't stick with me. I've given a lot of thought to the idea of being the alternative to that model and I was actually just curious how others in the same boat do it.

Guess there aren't too many others in the same boat...

Thanks Byron.

Oh and Roman, that comment about how those who can't do teach instead- I don't know if it's true. What about someone who CAN really TEACH? Plenty of people retreat from academia to the private sector because they burn out early when their knowledge is put to the test. I teach because it's what I know I really CAN do. Why teaching isn't considered doing is beyond me. It can take a lot of doing, if you do it right. It also takes it all out of you by the end of the day.

And with that, I'm going to bed.

z said...

I know it didn't stick James. It is obvious. But I see humor in those statements. They really do make me smile at their silliness which is why I offered another idyllic pressure.

What Byron said is key. Tell yourself "one thing." When time gets scarce, I too have found the 'one thing' approach to work very well. And I hope to be in the same boat as you very soon.

Jaime Verde said...

Thanks Z.
Yeah, I'm happy you picked up on that professor's humor. Check out his website for some more hard-to-swallow humor...

I was in this guy's first class at UNI when he was about 27.

Mark Creegan said...

Hi all,
Not a dad yet(at least not that i know of, he he he!) tacky, i know.

Anyway, my good buddy Nestor Gil gets a ton of artwork made, visual and musical, with a lovley family with two kids age 7 and 3. He says all he does is avoid the tv, computer (except email and the crap links i send him) and any other time traps.

He still reads and has tons of family time. He is also a stay at home dad AND works part time teaching. He actually inspires me in that it is possible to be highly active in art and have the family too.

Plus I want my kids to see me be an artist. So there is alot of insentive beyond just personal career. I do not want my child witnessing me NOT be involved in what I am passionate about, fair and simple.