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Major project: Professional development 'How to be an artist'

Throughout the major project module I want to consider ways of building on my professional practice. Through reading and feeding back from this book it can equip me with skills on knowledge to consider more professional ways of practicing as an artist.


Saltz offers invaluable insight into what really matters to emerging artists: originality, persistence, a balance between knowledge and intuition, and that most precious of qualities, self-belief. Brimming with rules, prompts, and practical tips, How to Be an Artist gives artists new ways to break through creative blocks, get the most from materials, navigate career challenges, and above all find joy in the work. Teeming with full-colour artwork from visionaries ancient and modern, this beautiful and useful book will help artists of all kinds—painters, photographers, writers, performers—realize their dreams.

Useful ideas:

Before starting:

  • Don't be embarrassed (take courage in work)

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge (creativity is key)

  • Tell your own story (this will be interesting - allow others to see personality in art)

  • Recognise the otherness of art (being led by art itself)

  • Art is about doing and experience - not mastery

  • Embrace genre (find our place within art context but develop a unique style)

  • Recognise convention - resist constraint (you can effectively use convention if intentional

  • Throw out your net (seek inspiration, gain new ideas, expose yourself to new experiences, collect …

  • Develop forms of practice (train yourself in new processes or materials)

  • Get lost (be absorbed into work but not a machine)

  • "The only rule is work" (overcome fear of failure)

  • Start now (never too late to start)

How to begin:

  • Start working as soon as possible

  • Imitate, then separate

  • Use your studio (as sanctuary, laboratory, could just be a table. Act as ritual arena. Get into your body, prepare yourself. Leave something unfinished so you can continue the next day)

  • Embed though in material (artworks that express thought and emotion, think of how they will be interpreted, give materials agency and energy)

  • Find your own voice, then exaggerated it.

  • Clear the studio (when stuck, move things, clean, re arrange)

  • There are no wasted days (eg. Walking, conversation, coffees with networks are all work)

  • Know what you hate

  • Just finish work!

Step 3, learn to think like an artist

  • All art is subjective (art is unchanging, never the same)

  • Look hard and open

  • See as much as you can (critics, writing, exhibitions, work, materials see it all)

  • Art as verb - art is active - it acts upon us

  • The difference between subject matter and content (e.g., subject matter is the actual thing, image, object - what it is depicting. the content is the meaning behind the work - the context

  • Be inconsistent (useful to have variety, experimentation - things to set you off in new directions. You are not making a product.

  • Make strength out of weakness

  • Own your guilty pleasures (hold onto your taste - it is all inspiration for you)

  • Make art for now (bring it into current conversation)

  • Embrace chance

Enter the art world:

  • Have courage (brave fears, make sacrifices, have faith in your work)

  • Don't define yourself by a single medium

  • Form connections, groups, covens, networks (artists need connection, protect one another, mutual support)

  • Accept that you will likely be poor (maintain network of support)

  • Define success (be careful, = success and happiness are key)

  • Art and therapy (find a practice that eases your mind and allows you to work)

  • Key people (a dealer, collectors - 5 or 6, critics - 2 or 3 of your generation?)

  • Learn to write about your work (keep it simple, do not use jargon, reject cant, use own voice, direct, clear, to the point. Avoid big abstract concepts e.g. nature/culture. Avoid art lingo e.g., interrogaye, reconceptualise .... You have your own theory even if you are not interested in theory)

  • Do not fear success

Survive the art world:

  • You've got to want it (need to be persistent, determined, outwit their doubts)

  • Make an enemy of envy (it is a distraction, go back to work)

  • Deadlines (great for forcing work and for concentrating, set yourself deadlines. Keep work unresolved and developing)

  • Learn to deal with rejection (accept criticism, it is just someone's opinion)

  • Recover from critical failures (all work is bound to please some but not others. You can learn more from negative views.

  • It takes time to form a career

  • Having a family is fine (divide attention between work, family and career - hard but possible.

Attain galactic brain:

  • Art changes how we see the world

  • Artists do not own the meaning of their work (anyone experiences work in unique ways - means your work is alive)

  • What you don't like is as important as what you do like (but still appreciate the qualities within the work)

  • Prize radical vulnerability (reveal things about yourself, share, allow yourself to be disappointed, be willing to fail)

  • You are always learning

  • Be delusional (accept that you will have doubts but remain confident - delude yourself with your positive attributes - you are a genius of your own craft


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