After giving an artist talk at my solo show “Era Dorada” (Golden Age) at the Sagrado Corazon (Sacred Heart) University of Puerto Rico, I was asked to offer some words of advice for young artists and art students. I gave them a few at the moment but after that I felt the urge to really think about the matter and write down a list of seven points of advice that could serve as a simple guideline for those who are starting out as artists. Of course this list could also be applied to any artist at any stage as in my case being a mid-career artist these seven points are the laws I try to live up to all the time. By following these seven points you may be able to channel and get the most out of your creative energies.
2. Keep a Journal and document everything you make. Write and draw every day, make it a habit and a discipline. This will keep your creative flow alive and to know yourself. With this you will be able to hold on to new ideas. Much of the creative blocks can be avoided or removed by this simple practice. Do not worry if the drawings or writings seem stupid or irrelevant. This journal is private and it’s a way of having an intimate look into your inner creative being so you can access it at any moment. Affirm your thoughts and beliefs, write and re-write your artist statement. Document not only your ideas but also your work with a portfolio with good photos of your work. Start photographing even your drawings. In case your work is lost or stolen, you will have a visual evidence of your artwork. Besides being an effective professional tool it will allow to view your own evolution later on.
3. Make a work schedule. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with production at the studio. There are so many things to do that keep us away from making art. Assign yourself a time and space to work as much as possible but also leaving time for other important activities as well as a time to relax. Be realistic, know your limitations and be aware of your responsibilities. Start viewing your studio time as important as any other job, not expecting to be visited by a muse or inspiration but working a certain amount of hours a day. For an artist his or her work is central and he or she works as many hours a day as possible. Some artists work 7 to 8 hours a day just like any other full time job. Discipline is the keyword here.
7. Dare to be different. If you see most artists painting large canvases, paint on small panels. Go against the mainstream; avoid becoming an imitator of current styles and trends. The best artists I know of make their own way and do not follow the masses or make what everyone expects them to do. Look into yourself and search for those qualities that make you especially different from other artists. Explore and take these differences further with your work so you may stand out of the crowd. This could make a huge difference on how others view and remember your work and you as an artist. For this it is important to follow the advice #2.
Hope these words of advice are of help to those young artists out there who wish to pursue art seriously. As a last word I should add that in this life I’ve learned that being an artist means much more than just having talent. Many good people out there have talent but do not take themselves seriously. I’ve seen poorly skilled art students and artists persist and keep practicing non-stop and after years of hard work they have become accomplished artists. So I say it’s not a matter of talent but on how much you wish to become something and how much you work for it!
All text on this blog entry is copyrighted material© by the artist and author Patrick McGrath Muñiz