Years ago, before my fine art career, when working as a freelance illustrator, I was speeding home from my Dallas office when I heard the siren behind me and saw the blinking lights. Yes, it was for me. The police officer strolled up to the car and the exchange went something like this. “Do you know how fast you were going?” “No,” I said, “I wasn’t paying any attention.” “What’s the big rush?” “Well, I’m rushing home to see my wife, it’s been a long day.”
Now during this exchange the officer had pulled out his ticket writing pad and was ready to take down the information, when he asked, “What do you do for a living?” “I’m an artist,” I said. At this, the officer threw his hands up in the air and said, “Oh, that explains it, my brother-in-law is an artist.” He then tucked his pad back in his pocket and told me to drive carefully and to have a nice day.
The biggest misconceptions about artists.
Apparently, there’s a perception out there about us artists. Because of that perception, I was spared a ticket that day. But I’m not alone, any of us that call ourselves artists are looked upon differently by the general public. We don’t really have a “job” and what we do is really easy and more like a hobby than anything. I mean, we’re just naturally gifted, it isn’t something we really have to work at.
You serious artists out there will recognize these questions without hesitation. Just insert your name. The misconceptions the general public have concerning artists is hardly ever stated directly but is revealed subtly through the questions asked of us.
A question asked of my wife…”What’s John doing today?”
Translation: Being an artist allows you to do whatever you want, when you want. It’s kind of like being retired. You can work or not work. Sleep in or just watch TV all day.
“What do you do when you’re not inspired to paint?”
Translation: Artists operate totally on feelings/emotion. If in the “mood”, you paint; if not in the “mood”, you do other stuff. Basically, artists lack discipline. It’s all about inspiration. When inspiration comes into the room, you work frantically until you drop and then you don’t work again until the next whiff of inspired air decides to visit you.
“It must be nice being an artist?”
Translation: You don’t have a boss. You don’t have to go into work every day. You can come and go as you please. You can paint what you want, when you want, if you want, and no one tells you what to do. You’re free of worry and responsibility.
“How long did it take you to paint that?”
Translation: That is way too much money for the time you spent on that piece. My, you artists really rake in the dough! Why should you make so much when painting is for fun and it’s what many people do for a hobby? Heck, my Mother can paint.
…and now that I’m older…”Do you still paint? When are you going to retire?”
Answer: “Yes, I still paint. This is what I do for my livelihood; and no, I will not retire, people retire to do what I do.”
Those are a few of the questions often heard by artists. I’m sure you can think of more. So, what are the biggest misconceptions about artists?
People consider us to be naturally gifted, so creating comes easy, but at the same time we’re pretty eccentric and definitely follow the beat of a different drummer.
Now, that may be true of some, but the pros I know are pretty much down-to-earth, disciplined, hard working individuals.
Let me know what you think.
John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE.