Last week I celebrated many things - my 30th birthday, one year in Tucson, and one year as an artist. Although my transition into an art career was fairly smooth (you can read about it in my blog post How I Started my Art Career), there have been some uncomfortable realities I've had to face.
I call them "uncomfortable" because I had a difficult time facing and learning some truths about myself and what it means to suceed as an artist.
My Skill Level is Average
I automatically assumed that if I devoted myself to art full-time, my technical skill-level would sky-rocket within one year and I'd reach my full potential. This isn't the case.
When you learn a new skill, it's easy to experience quick progression. The mere act of practicing or doing anything produces dramatic improvement. At the advanced level though, you must focus like a laser on an exact aspect you want to improve. The shear act of making any art will not produce advanced skills.
I have grown tremendously in foundational skills, but I am still at a mediocre level (strictly speaking about technical skills). I am at the point that if I want to advance my skills, I will need to research and practice specific techniques and skills.
I Need a Style
Being put in a box is uncomfortable However, the truth is that the best way to get known as an artist and have devoted followers is to develop a style. I've seen this in action as people follow me on Instagram, and then unfollow me after loading more pictures of a different style of work I've done.
The trouble is, I don't have a style yet. I've spent the past year trying many different mediums, styles, and themes. I'd say I lean toward humor and vivid colors, but I still haven't determined what my style is. I'm not worried about it though because I feel it is something that will come with time.
Going Viral isn't a Given
I thought that as long as I created something unique, funny, and clever, I would gain instant popularity. Many people may laugh at this, but with age of social media, I realy thought that all it would take was a good idea. This is simply not the case. Although it seems like something ridiculous is becoming instantly popular all the time, establishing myself as a known artist takes time and real effort.
It Takes Effort - YEARS of Effort
This goes hand in hand with the viral concept above. I've realized that I will have to work for years and years to establish myself as an artist. My brother sent me an article called, "Why Generation Y is Unhappy." In it, it explains that some core beliefs of individuals from my generation is that we are "special" and we'll get what we want. We believe that our own "specialness" will enable us to easily achieve our dreams. Basically, we don't think we'll have to work hard for what we want. Sadly, I fell into this category. Talk about an uncomfortable reality to face. I now know that even if I have unique ideas or talent, I still have to work really hard for a long, long time to experience the kind of growth and impact I'd like my art to have.
So these are the "hard-to-face" realities I've learned. However, I've also learned many positive things. The biggest thing I've learned is that I can actually live and support myself through art - and that is a very comfortable reality.