A Reader Writes:
I read your livejournal and have seen your seemingly charmed life as an artist and If you dont mind I have some questions for you.
Q: How did you get started on a creative career, meaning were you always an artistic person (art major in school etc) or did you start on your own and if so how?
A: I think it's the sort of thing that just happens because it can't be any other way. If you're making tires in a factory or folding boxes or picking strawberries and you're an artistic person that art is going to come out. If it really wants out, it won't stay in. I didn't go to art school, I majored in English Literature which I think was exactly the right thing. I consider myself primarily a writer and secondarily some sort of visual artist. Meeting those people in college had a huge huge impact on me. I'd been twiddling around with things and suddenly here were ROOMS filled with people who were doing stuff, every day. It was like magic. In college the world really is your oyster, so to speak. I think I learned as much from my peers as I did in class and both served to inspire me.
In college I was on the newspaper, the magazine, the year book, and the poetry magazine. That helped an awful lot.
Q: You seem to make a good living (or at least enough to make you happy) with you art. How do you do it if you don't mind me asking? For people who want to start freelancing or to start a creative career later in life what advice can you impart from your experience?
A: I didn't go to grad school for art and I think I should have (heck, the day is still young, I might do it still) because I see people who have MA's just leapfrogging things that it took me years to do. I think you should consider grad school, because there you'll make the connections that I'm still trying to pick out of the back of art magazines.
But inside you there's this burning thing and that's your art, wanting to get out. It's like hunger, go in the direction where it hurts the least, it'll lead you to the path. It's not really the sort of thing someone can tell you (unless maybe they're a professor in a graduate art program), in my experience it's something you figure out in late night conversations with yourself. You know what you want to do, you see the things that excite you, go in that direction.
Read a lot of magazines, go to a lot of art openings and always always have something with you with your name and your art on it, because at one of those openings, you're going to meet a gallery director who wants to show your stuff. I guarantee it.
The key to success, and this isn't a secret, is some amount of talent some amount of hard work and some amount of luck. And, as far as I can tell, there's no magic amount of any that you need, just some of each. Bumping into Madonna in an elevator is luck. Being able to say "Hi, here's a CD I played the banjo on, I think we should make beautiful music together" is luck paired with determination and hard work, and that's what turns "OMG! I MET MADONNA IN AN ELEVATOR!" into something more than a one sentence anecdote.
Q: Lastly, what type of camera do you typically shoot with?
A: I have a Nikon d700, that's my main camera. The lenses are more important to getting the job done though. And even more important is a good idea -- spend your money on tea and notebooks, sit under trees, stare up at the sky, write down your good idea, then charge at it. Your camera won't mean that much. I shot Armed America with a camera a lot less advanced than the low end consumer DSLR's on the market now. Nobody cares about the camera (except camera geeks like me), they just care about the feeling they get from looking at your images. Evi Numan or Katie West or Mary Ellen Mark could do a book with a point and shoot and you'd buy it and you'd love it.
Q: Do you plan to have kids one day? The reason why i ask is because I hear (and observe with friends who have kids) that kids are huge time vortexes. If you plan to have kids, how do you foresee integrating time for your art with kids? if you dont plan to have kids, well then it won't be an issue for you
A: I read this to trillian_stars and told her what I was going to say, and she forbade me to repeat it in a public forum. I would be interested in what people think I'd say to this.... And I'd love to hear what other people who both do and don't have kids and do (or don't) have artistic careers think....
Thanks for asking -- hope this helped.
Wednesday Mourning interviewed on Lili's Lair
When I got home from today's adventures I found that Roswell had gotten me flowers to celebrate the fact that I've been married for four months. (I think trillian_stars must have reminded her. Roswell doesn't count so well, but I'm tickled by the thought.)