This last weekend at Oklahoma City Museum of Art this one topic kept coming up. I think the reason is that I've never really been able to give a good answer to the question asked of me- "Why don't you paint ____? He/She is so popular, you'd sell so much!".
I finally let go of fear of judgment of my answer and for the first time it really flowed to me.
I have read many articles from artists with advice, and had heard other people say the same thing to me. That I needed to paint as many subjects as possible that will promote my brand. Paint non-stop, work, work, work, and tag these celebrities and cater to the resort towns, and which art sells to tourists. That to be a WORKING artist is the goal.
I understand why this works for some people. This is no WRONG way to be an artist. Anyone who says so is projecting their own ideals and insecurities of failure of some projected outcome. All advice is worth listening to, however, but you must listen through the filter of what works for you. There are many types of artists with many different goals.
I did start to internalize this mentality, and begin to feel insecure because I was fighting against this advice of just painting every iconic image and celebrity to cover my bases, and hashtag to high hell. I began to feel that if this was the advice of so many artists and patrons, that I WAS somehow not being serious about my reason for being (career).
I finally let go of that fear of judgement of my answer, and my honest truth came out. Again and again this weekend. I think it was happening to wash away the past.
This is MY personal answer, my truth. I understand if there are others out there who disagree with me, but maybe our goals are different. I will respect your goals if you do mine.
I paint for myself. I paint what makes ME happy. When someone sees a piece of mine and they get really excited about it, there is an instant real connection with ME. My art is me. You are getting a piece of the artist. You know that if you like what youre seeing you have something in common with me, and you are of my tribe.
If I were to paint every celebrity, sure I may sell in the short term, but ultimately interest would fade because the people who were excited to discover me would soon find that they couldn't tell anything about me through my art. They wouldn't know what I liked or disliked, because I painted everyone to be safe. There would be no true genuine connection. Sure maybe most people wont realize it on the surface, but subconsciously it would take away my voice and I would lose my tribe.
I intend to paint the things thats I find joy in. Knowing that if others do too, then that is so wonderful that creation worked through me to connect me to these people. If anyone doesn't like my art, and there are those who are vocal about not liking it, I DONT CARE. I really don't. I didn't make it for you, you are not my tribe. You go buy a different artists art. Which is great!! That artist needs support too!!! But no need to belittle someone else. There is room for all of us.
I am safe in my art because it makes me happy. It connects me to my tribe. It projects my personal energy. It is me. I won't compromise that. So for good comments or bad, I sleep safe at night knowing my art will provide me wonderful opportunities with the people I'm MEANT to connect with.
I am not a photographer but I have observed that I think a photographers greatest power lies most importantly in editing. Which images from the full of a shoot to bring to the surface. Which image they don't like, but have the eye to crop in a certain way to make the best image of the shoot.
I consider my materialized paintings my final edits. It's important what I choose and my intent behind it. You can always be sure I'm not trying to trick you into a connection with me or my art. Either you have a connection with it or you don't. Both are perfectly acceptable as long as I'm being my authentic self.
Please feel free to comment your thoughts (respectfully) and I'll reply. I'd love to hear how you view art and what it means to you!