On Friday, I was driving by the 7-Eleven and could not resist a quick stop for a fix of Ho-Hos and a pair of Hostess Cupcakes. So, I am back on the junk food. I was surprised to see that Ho-Hos now come in packs of three (I recall buying them two per package). Anyway, it just means I had to eat one before I started painting the other two. They taste as I remember--but I soon discovered they melt quickly under a still life lamp. Anyway, it looks like the "Bite Me" series is not over--you can expect another few paintings in this series to come over the next few weeks.
As I lapsed back into my junk food habit, I have been thinking whether it is a good idea to keep painting the same little still life over and over, although I don’t seem to be able to stop myself. I am beginning to feel a bit like Giacometti, who used to make these miniature sculptures and carry them around in a little matchbox in his pocket. They were pretty much impossible to sell, but he said that he could not stop himself from doing it. He tried to make bigger sculptures, but they always seem to shrink until they fit in a matchbox. Fortunately, he eventually got over it and made something that he could actually sell—otherwise we may not have ever heard of him.
Well, this line of thinking made me wonder how one actually becomes a “successful artist”. If you can believe it, there are actually people (mostly economists) who study this topic. They have their own journal and publish all sorts of papers about artists. Anyway, I was looking at some of their work and this is what they are telling us about “successful artists" in the US:
1. The average age of artists in the US is thirty-nine years of age;
2. Art teachers account for less than 1% of artists, down from 5%;
3. “Designers” compose over one-third of all artists;
4. Only one-quarter of artists said they majored in art at the college level;
5. More than 75% of artists have a college education;
6. Ten states account for 60% of the artists in the US;
7. Only 24% of artists reported they worked solely as an artist; and
8. 60% of artists have other jobs, because "they pay better".
So there you go—a bunch a pretty worthless statistics. However, it does show that having a full time job is not unusual for an artist.
If you want to know more about what it takes to be a successful artist I would recommend you read Cay Lang’s book “Taking the Leap”, which puts it more succinctly. I wrote in a previous post about this book some time back. I highly recommend her book if you are interested in good advice on how to build your career--especially if you are just starting out. She says that there are three essential qualities that lead to success as an artist:
3. Good work habits
Of these three, she says "good work habits" are the most important. My own experience bears this out. Since starting this blog, not only has my painting improved, but I feel more in touch with what I am trying to accomplish as an artist--and I have made a few decent paintings in the process.
I hope that helps to inspire you to get back into the studio. A daily practice is the core of all successful artists.
All the best, sixtyminuteartist.
NOTE: The above statistics are taken from Chapter 7, "The Career Matrix: The Pipeline for Arists in the United States" (Authors, A. Gilligan and Neil Alper) which appears in the book, "The Public Life of the Arts in America", edited by Joni. M. Cherbo and Margaret J. Wyszomirski. Rutgers University Press, 2000.