"Retro Schmetro" 2005 18 x 18" wall art, kiln fired pigments on float glass
As artists, we often say to each other, "So, have you figured out what you want to be when you grow up?" That's code for, "What are you discovering and how is your work growing?" Makes an interesting question for all of us to ask and keep on asking. It's the kind of inquiry that helps us to continue to grow as humans and as proper creative beings.
When I was growing up I knew I wanted to be an artist; but like the young boy who wanted a B-B gun in the movie "A Christmas Story", I was told I'd shoot my eye out. (Translation: You can't make a living making art!) My choices as a young woman in the 50's were limited to Teacher, Nurse, Secretary or Mother. I took what I thought was the easier "mother way." I finally went to university and art school, then two kids and a divorce later settled for life as a Graphic Artist.
"Piano Forte" 18 x 24" 2004 kiln-fired pigments on float glass
But I was always a bit contrary and a whole lot stubborn and what I was told I couldn't do was what I really NEEDED to do. I finally summoned up the courage to step away from the security of a regular paycheck and do what I'd always known I could do..... shoot your eye out or no! Nowadays I see some really talented kids that are given constant encouragement and always told they can do anything they want, and they end up with little or no drive. They seem to dabble in lots of things and accomplish nothing. So perhaps a little hardship and discouragement is good for the soul.
Another way of putting it is "Finding your brand." An artist's brand is his or her artistic voice and includes subject matter, style, color palette and much more. I subscribe to a weekly Art News newsletter and skim through the many photos amazed by the diversity. Some of these just make me want to ask "why?"
When I was in art school, it was all about angst. You had to create gut wrenching honesty or strong social commentary to qualify as a fine artist. But few people really want to live with gut wrenching angst though it might make great headlines and attract a big crowd at gallery openings. On the other hand, as a glass artist I can create (and have created) lovely sun catchers and Christmas ornaments and have lots of low ticket sales. But, as someone recently asked me, "Is this really what you want to be known for?"
"Shirt Off My Back" 16 x 16" 2002 Kiln-fired pigment on sheet glass
A brand is an evolving thing but I think it's important to know, if not what you want to be...at least it's in your general vocabulary. For me, it's about several things: Color, Joy and Nature.
Stay with me as I continue to explore this pesky question of branding and knowing what to be as a grown-up.
I'm including photos that show a progression of my work over many years. This post illustrates art from the early years of glass beginning with low-fire painted glass. Next time I'll include some early fused pieces.