Friday, August 28, 2009

Constraints of an Artist

When do you decide enough is enough? As an artist, how do you define yourself; and, what standards have you set, if any? Recently, I have been presented with some opportunities which, previously, I would have acted on...for whatever reasons. Whether it was to get the "creative juices flowing" or to network or to get my work "out there" (wherever that may be...if you find out, let me know) or to get published or to "flex" my creative muscles (I have enough muscles I'm learning about) and so forth and so on. You get the idea. We all have our reasons. As legitimate, fun, or exciting as they may be. However, there comes a point in time when these decisions can be detrimental to your art, in such a quiet, subtle way, you may not even realize it, like me.

I found myself confined by the restraints of all the rules each of these activities were built around. My work was becoming stifled trying to keep up and being a good "team player". The culmination of these rules was creating a rigid framework for me, with very little room for me to maneuver.

This evolution began earlier this year by removing myself from the company of anyone negative. You know those people, always carrying the DRAMA sign around. With them, more DRAMA follows. Or, those with such closed, narrow perspectives, things must be done their way. How about the people who can't help but to make a snide, sarcastic comment about someone? Art should be fun, shouldn't it? Working with someone who makes art work was not someone I wanted to have around.

Then, the Hoffman Challenge Deadline came and went, by my own choice. (Discussed more in a previous post entitled "Studio Time" on August 9, 2009.)

Followed by these past months of deciding against submitting my work into publications and participating in shows and other events. Each carried their own set of reasons, working against the image I envisioned and was working towards:

Time Factor: It would take months before my work would be returned to me, with no guarantee of publication. I already had other ideas for these same pieces. Perhaps, at a later date, when my new line is complete, then, I might reconsider it.

Backseat Important Projects: Well, work that was important to me would need to take a backseat for fun, profitable pieces that needed to meet the pressing deadline.

Work Not Returned: This never sits well with me. A couple of shows stated my work would not be returned, regardless if they used it or not. What would they do with it? Give it to someone to promote their own business? Have it stuffed in a box in a dark, dusty corner, crammed with other artists' work, crying out to be seen and appreciated? I don't know; but, I didn't like it.

Losing Artist Rights: One show indicated I would need to give up all rights to my piece and its designs. Ghastly!

My real defining moment came with this last item that I began questioning, "At what point is enough?" How much of myself, as an artist, am I going to have to sacrifice? At what price? And, is that price worth the cost?

So, at what point do you stop "playing the game" or doing what's supposedly "good" for you, for your art? What are you willing to accept and not accept, in the name of your art, and, yourself, as an artist? Perhaps it's a never-ending process, like our work...

Clipart from

...but, for me, I have become more defined as an artist.


Melissa said...

How horribly ironic that something as free and individual as art becomes such an "inside the box" effort when in the hands of formal shows, and publishers and the like. Seems their efforts to "franchise" artists will only result in the stifling and eventual demise of their art!

Mrs. Art Doll Maker said...

Which is why I think it is so important to really know yourself as an artist. If you're not focused and allow your attention to be easily diverted, you will be led off the path that you want to be on, which is what was happening to me.

Although these events can be a lot of fun, positive, and wonderful to be involved in, originally, their purpose was to motivate me to do my art, try out different things, and get out there. Just throw caution to the wind and do it! At the time, it was fine. However, my goal changed; but, my course didn't. I kept repeating the same behaviors of getting involved when I should have altered my course to match the direction of my goal. Common sense, huh? Not so much so when you're so deeply involved in trying to meeting someone else's standards. If their purpose for the events matched the standards,parameters, I set for myself and my goals, it would have been fine.

I was allowing more external entities influence me as an artist instead of having a set of internal standards already in position that would have acted as a gatekeeper for me as I am developing into the type of artist I want to be. It's still not all hammered out; but, at least now, I'm aware of it and am on the right path.

Also, thank you for posting your comment. I enjoy receiving feedback and hearing the insights of others.

Sea Gypsy said...

I was just doing a little surfing and ran across your blog! I just love your work! I have felt all of the feelings you are talking about and have come to the same conclusion. Stay true to yourself!

Mrs. Art Doll Maker said...

I'm glad you found me, Sea Gypsy! I recall first coming across your name 2 or 3 years ago, maybe longer. It was just your name, no other information. Don't recall where. But, I thought, "Gee! I love that name! Why didn't I think of that!" I've always wondered where you came up with it and what art, if any, you made. Now, I'll be able to check it out on your blogs!

Anonymous said...

wow, great clipart.

Mrs. Art Doll Maker said...

Thank you for stopping by and letting me know you enjoy the clip art I've posted.

I've gone through other free clip art sites but didn't find any that really stood out like the ones at Clip Art Heaven. They are so easy to use. Some other sites made it so difficult just to find the images. The illustrations and bright colors are often just what I'm looking for to match what is written in my post.