Brothers and sisters, these are strange and portentous times. An entire string of anniversaries, both artistic and (much) more personal, is sweeping by as we speak. And while I’m generally not one to dwell on the past, looking back can definitely be instructive.
Not that I’d want to live there. But F. Scott said it well:
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
On Friday afternoon I realized it was the anniversary of the day I hung the artwork for my first solo show. What a difference a year makes. Going into that first show I barely had a clue what I was doing – just flying by the seat of my pants, really. Since then there’ve been some monumental gains, and a catastrophic loss or two. But we soldier on, don’t we?
And Sunday (Oct. 7th) was the anniversary of the itself. This might be a good time to have a quick look at these as well, though they’re more of a sidebar or a footnote to today’s musings. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here.
An unbelievable event for me; I’ve never experienced anything quite like it, before or since. The things people did for me, the way they helped out, was overwhelming. Even the little things, like the fact that there was a fresh drink in my hand practically before I even finished the previous one (my Lovely Assistant had some serious ninja skills). I felt like the king of the world.
I remember, at one point, looking around and seeing these people who’d never met before, talking and laughing and drinking, and realizing that it was my art had brought them together. That was incredibly moving.
After the show, a couple very important people came back to my place for more cocktails and the Most Inappropriate High-Five of All Time. The following day was a photo shoot for one of my friend Karina’s books. Sometimes I look back at photos from that weekend and I wonder what happened to that guy. He certainly had no idea of what life had in store for him over the coming months. So many things went wrong, it felt like I was living in a country song.
Not that it was all doom and gloom, of course. Some pretty goddamn incredible things happened to me, too. I’ve hit my stride as an artist. I’ve got a clear vision of where I want to go from here, and what I want to do. My heart was touched by people too numerous to mention – people who were there for me at the darkest times, people who made me feel like a rockstar, people who reached out, people who absolutely embraced my art.
I put on two more shows, created 40 new paintings (and 15 more are nearing completion) and countless drawings, published a calendar, was hit by a truck, had my heart broken, found support from unexpected corners, worked my ass off, completed a thousand consecutive days of art, made cool new friends from all over the world, reconnected with old ones, lost a couple people who were very important to me, burned a bridge or two, shed a little blood and no small amount of tears, succeeded, failed, lost 25 pounds, got new tattoos, learned a lot about muses…
… but most of all? I survived .
Now I’m mere days away from my biggest show yet . Plus it’s Thanksgiving. If you can join us on the 13th, we’d love to have you. And if you’ve moved me over the past year, if you’ve touched me, if you’ve inspired me, if you’ve shared my victories – then I thank you. You’re the reason I do this.
October 8, 2012 | Categories: , , art show , artist , artiste , artistic growth , artwork , , bret taylor , , , creative , , kudos , labour of love , , , , lovely assistant , memories , metal flake , metalflake , , muse , , , onward , paint , painting , paintings , , tattoo , thank you , thanks , , upward , validation , , | Tags: art , , , dinosaur , , , howyadoin , , metalflake , , , painting , , , , | 3 Comments »
As you might’ve guessed, painting for a living (much like any other occupation) has its share of gripes. In this particular case, of course, the issues are compounded by the fact that so many ignorant people seem to think it’s a cute little hobby for children, but ultimately something we should grow out of – the ironic part of that being, of course, that the same people make the worst clients because they act like spoiled children themselves. Combine that ridiculous sense of entitlement with bad manners, general rudeness, and willful ignorance, and you’ve got a recipe for frustration:
- Probably the most aggravating thing is people who offer shitty advice, or pass on leads that are obviously useless, but demand answers and validation right away. Here’s a tip: if you give me a lead and I say “I’ll check it out,” that means I’ll check it out. If I have a question, I’ll get back to you. If it turns out to be useful, I will thank you, probably both publicly and privately. If it sounds fishy or turns out to be a scam – which it often does – I’ll ignore it. Acting like a needy child won’t help sell me on it. More than likely it’ll make me feel tempted to ignore you in the future, and that’s the politest response I can think of. So don’t send me frantic followup messages the next day because you need your ego stroked. I will check out your recommendation and either follow it or not. This isn’t about you, regardless of how noble your intentions might be.
- If you know somebody who’s looking for free art in return for some dubious “exposure” somewhere, point them in the direction of an art school. Maybe some lucky student will learn an important lesson or two about scammers and grifters. Me? I’ve already been down that road many times, and I’ve learned what there is to learn.
- Don’t be a flake when you’re commissioning or buying art. If you’ve got a project in mind, by all means get in touch. I’ll probably ask a few questions, then give you several different options with regards to size and price, and tell you how much I want for a down payment. If the idea of a down payment bothers you, then please fuck off and don’t contact me again. It’s specifically because of people like you that I ask for down payments in the first place.
- Further to that last point, if you make a business arrangement with an artist, honour it. Don’t run away when the project’s half-finished. Don’t pretend you didn’t get messages, emails, calls, or invoices. And don’t just assume I’ll forget. It makes you look like a flake, an idiot and a scumbag.
- And finally on the point of flakiness, don’t offer to help someone out with a reference, a commission, or anything else and then bail out when the time comes to actually help. Especially if the aforementioned bailing-out involves pretending you’re sick or out of town.
- If you know someone whose kid would do the job for much less than I charge, hire that kid, or go buy yourself a nice print at Walmart or IKEA. I’m not interested in making bargain-basement art, so don’t waste my time.
- If your significant other decides halfway through a project that they don’t like it, I don’t care. I don’t have a business arrangement with them; I have one with you . They have no say in the process at all. And if you have a disagreement with them, it’s your problem. Not mine. Don’t drag your dysfunctional baggage into my life.
- Shipping is a legitimate charge, not an afterthought or a cash grab on my part. And it isn’t an exact science; I don’t know all the prices and regulations for FedEx, Canada Post, or UPS. If it costs more than originally anticipated, then it costs more. I will try my damnedest to give you a realistic quote, but I can’t guarantee things down to the last penny. Trying to stick me with any additional costs makes you look like a cheapskate.
Wow, that was therapeutic. Any other artists got suggestions for issues I haven’t touched on?
Oh, and if you think I might be talking about you? I am.
My good buddy Ray just did a nice write-up of my book on his blog:
It’s always satisfying to see someone make strides creatively, both in short bursts and over the long haul, and to share in the process in a public way no matter what the potential criticism or negative feedback. It’s why I’ve struggled with creative impulses for years and years. Like others, I crave warm and fuzzy validation, but I also want to be taken seriously, and that requires ripping apart old work, acknowledging writing tendencies and consciously navigating a way around them, and, perhaps most importantly, finding a unique “voice,” one that reflects who I am, rather than just mimicking others. Most of us don’t want to walk that tightrope, and one fall without a net is usually enough to deter efforts for awhile, if not indefinitely.
You can read the rest here . And while you’re there, check out the other entries. Ray’s got a lot to say on a number of topics, and always says it well. (Also, pay attention to the labels on his posts, because they’re freakin’ hilarious.)