Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sarah Lucas told Tracey Emin she had better be an artist because...

Sarah Lucas told Tracey Emin she had better be an artist because there was nothing else she could do – so says Emin in an interview re The Shop she and Lucas opened.

I have usually found a sense of pride in choosing art rather than needing art. Am I being a little ignorant (and indeed arrogant)? Are the only people who are likely to persevere and wrestle with being an artist those who need to make art work for them?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do next – every artist’s million dollar question, or perhaps just mine.

I have never been one of those people who ‘always knew’ I was ‘meant’ to be an artist. Before I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be an art therapist. That (and because I enjoyed art at school) is why I went off to gain a BA in fine art.

I credit the fine art course at Lancaster University with me wanting to be an artist now.

Now I really want to be an artist but realise also that I have be realistic about what that looks like. As far as I’m aware, even practitioners whom I would deem successful rarely earn their sole living from their making.

The big question is whether to pursue a safety net or not.

I have been wondering whether now is a good chance to start working part time towards qualifying as an art therapist (it would, after all, take three years part time). I have the means (just) to fund it without taking out a loan and I’m in a great geographical location to do it. Assuming I worked hard enough and remained convicted enough (big assumptions) I could theoretically continue with my practice in part (small parts, I think, because I’d still be earning my keep part time).

Enough waffle – in short, I think I could just about start training and still keep making a little bit along the way. Then, in the long term, a part time ‘career job’ could go a long way facilitating my art making as well as offering me some much needed structure and stimuli and contact with people.

However if art isn’t the only thing I can do, like it apparently was for Emin, will I ever be one of the surviving practitioners who wrestles, confronts and endures the rocky road of being an artist? Already when I hit the inevitable low that follows each roller coaster high I scout legitimate time-passers that allow me to avoid confronting the dips.

If I had a part time ‘career-job’ would I have too many legitimate escape routes from my studio and would I ever push on through to becoming an ‘successful’ artist?

Does anyone have any experience/input/words of wisdom to offer to input…?

(466 words)

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