Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Following the dream

So I tend to do things half-assed (at least in my opinion), and I'm sick of it.

The road to becoming a successful artist has been a difficult and long one. You could feasibly say that the road started when my mom enrolled me in summer art classes (which I LOVED, btw) in elementary school.

Eventually, I realized that society says that you need to go to college. Since my family was struggling financially, I realized that I needed good grades and tons of shit on my resume to get scholarships and grants and admission to a "good" school where I could make money and be happy, because, you know, if you grow up worrying about money, you think that money can buy happiness.

So, instead of pursuing art (I did enter a few little art events here and there, but not taking my work seriously), I did the academic route. Valedictorian, 1400+ SATs, blah blah blah. I got into UC Berkeley's prestigious College of Chemistry, and then proceeded to fail my first semester because I hated my classes so much.

But, instead of switching to art or theater, I ended up going the route of switching majors to Integrative Biology. Another half-assed move. I graduated Cal, then decided that I don't really want to do anything with biology (although doing biological illustrations might be sorta cool), and, thanks to Eve's support, enrolled in the Academy of Art.

When I first enrolled in art school, I started out in the Graphic Design department. After all, if you get a degree in graphic design, you can get hired into a firm as a junior designer and your career begins as an artist.

But fuck, I didn't want to kern type and mess with leading and all that crap (although I end up doing it when I design stuff anyway) - the fact is that I wanted to paint.

But, since painting is a hard profession (ever hear the term "starving artist?" I every frickin' day of my life), I decided to go into Illustration. As I learned draftsmanship (yes, contrary to a lot of my work, I actually CAN draw if the need arises), I realized that I still wasn't happy. I didn't want to draw what other people tell me to - I want to draw and paint what I want to draw and paint. So after taking some fine art classes, I talked to my department chair (thanks, Chuck!) and switched my curriculum over to Fine Art.

Now that all my senior-level classes have been in the Fine Art department, I've realized that I still have this huge chip on my shoulder about technical art making. I still feel pressure to draw photo-realistically or to have super-tight registration in my prints, even if it's not what I want to do.

I want to make art that I want to make, on my terms, when, where, and how I want to do it. Yes, it's selfish, but if you aren't selfish, how are your dreams ever going to come true? My last two classes at the Academy are Quick Studies and Silkscreen 2.

Quick Studies is taught by the super fucking talented Craig Nelson and Tomutsu Takashima, and if I wanted to, could learn how to paint realistically quicker and more effectively. Watching them paint is awe-inspiring. Silkscreen 2 is taught by Carrie Ann Plank, the printmaking department chair whose critiques and feedback are amazing. I should be super, super happy to be in these classes.

However, I don't want to paint realistically. I don't want to work on my book arts project. I want to paint monsters and people saying "your mom." I want to print pandas and monsters and clowns saying "go eff yourself." Is it a waste of my money (the $11k loan I took out?) to stay in these classes if I'm not going to take advantage of all the instruction and the critiques? Perhaps. But my little artist heart can't fucking take it anymore. My priorities have shifted.

I'm too busy running a craft fair and trying to make my own art that appeals to my little inner artistic child. Fear (of failure, bad grades, teacher disapproval, of not selling my art) has mucked things up long enough. No more half-assed following my dreams.

I'm going to stop caring whether or not people think I can't paint or print. I'm going to stop caring about whether or not my instructors think I'm wasting my talent or my money or whatever. I'm going to paint what I want, I'm going to print what I want, and that's that.

I have a sign on my desk that says "What would you do, if you weren't afraid?" It's time to actually do what I would do if I wasn't afraid and stop caring about my grades. Yes, I'm fine with failing my last two senior classes at the Academy. I'm not going to graduate anyway, so what do I really have to lose? Not much.


eve said...

and everything to gain -- that is, your soul.

SomethingReal said...

congrats on that man, glad you are following your dreams. After you get old enough you kind realize that grades don't really matter. I wish you the best in your endeavor I know you will do well!