How to be an artist?

Hi world welcome to my first blog post! I have so much to tell you that this blog finally had to be born.

So I decided this year I would be an artist.

I had always wanted to be but I was only partly committed to it. I definitely listened to the cynics who talked about how hard it was to make it in the art field and that set me back a bit. BUT this year I was like hey this is my life and I want to be an artist. I’m the only one who has to sleep in my bones every single night so I’m the only one who can really decide and make it happen. So I committed myself to it fully. I just decided I would be an artist. It might sound very simple, but that’s because you are thinking that when I say I decided it was as if I just said something and then it became true. But that is not the true nature of deciding. To decide something is to give birth to the thought, then to let it leave you and come back to you a million times until you finally think that you and the thought are actually better being the same thing so you keep it with you. To decide something is to every day remember that the thought is now a part of your flesh and your toes and your hair and also a part of the part of you that is existing within your body but not made up of it at all. To really decide something is different than deciding blackberries are your favorite berry because to really decide something is to make it a part of you.

Okay so that’s the spiritual version, I suppose. Now here is the actual sequence of events: I got super hyped and dedicated the year to all things art. (Side note, I also decided this year would be the year I went to Europe and that I took my sweet self to Paris. And I will write you a blog post about Paris another time because it deserves its own).

So anyways I applied to summer residencies. I networked. I joined clubs. I started a club! I created. A lot. I worked on something every single day. I made artist friends and started dating guys who would paint with me. And I decided I would have to get into Renegade Craft Fair.

Now this is the cool part because when I moved to Chicago a friend texted me saying that I should go to this awesome art fair because it’s so cool blah blah and I’m like yeah definitely but never really tried to go. Then a friend in Chicago randomly surprised me by taking me there. The day we went I remember very well because it was in a random part of town and I discovered this girl who printed her illustrations on soft organic baby clothes and this guy who made Japanese ceramic weed pipes. And the jewelry. Ugh, I am such a sucker for jewelry.

And I remember I got an almond milk latte and then it started to pour rain very hard and everyone just ran. We tucked ourselves under the 2 foot awning of a nearby building as we waited for our Uber who was some obscene length of time away. I was feeling very reflective as I stood there in the weather pressed up against the wall. I thought wow those artists are all completely badass. They make beautiful things while caring about the environment. They are creating with intention and that is different than just creating. I thought wow I would love to be a part of that community.

That was two summers ago. Fast forward back to real time. I applied early this spring. I heard back a few weeks later that I was waitlisted. This disappointed me because I was like daaaaamn, I am kind of almost in that realm but not actually there yet and I really wanted to be there so badly.

So I was like okay, and I quickly deleted the email and didn’t really think too much about it. I just kind of wrote it off and didn’t go balls to the walls in preparation for it.

But meanwhile I was doing lots of other art and general creating and living in a good way. I found myself in my first full time art-field job, getting paid by a place where I am literally creating art every day. And my freelance business started budding like a sweet little spring tulip. All of my friends suddenly all had really cool projects for me or sisters who needed something just like that. People started finding me online. And I got into an art and yoga residency in India (which I opted to defer in favor of an art work trade gig with my mentor in Hawaii who is this insanely talented and firey New Yorker turned Maui hippy/gold jeweler. She makes this ancient Egyptian-looking gold jewelry and she has this one ring that is a snake and he has two ruby eyes which is my birthstone and I love it and I love her). So anyways yeah, I started getting a lot of jobs and making a lot cooler, better art. I started a women’s art club and would basically only hang out with people if they would do art or yoga with me.

And through my whole creative-only-dating-rule, I met this guy who is a photographer that goes to school with me at Art Institute. He has great style. He wears this shirt that really like that is black with white polka dots. I like it when he wears it with the acid-washed retro levis. He supports my artistic practice unlike anyone I have ever met. He listens to every “brilliant idea” with the same fervor as the first time I said it. He’s funny and my friends all like him and he calls me beautiful a lot, so now he is my boyfriend.

So all of these good things are happening and I go to Paris which is amazing and then while I was there, I got an email that I had a spot at Renegade if I wanted it. And of course, I didn’t read this until I was back at work on Monday after Paris because I wanted an email break. But it was great because I was all melancholy to be back home and have to go back to work and do normal life so when I saw this I was so happy and excited I could barely believe it!

So from that day, I had three weeks and in the last three weeks I have been completely absorbed in my art, getting everything together. It’s been SO cool to see everything actually come together. Like making art is one thing. Designing designs is so necessary. Putting them on Photoshop mockups is really helpful. But it is something else entirely to make your art alive in the physical world. To find big printers and watch your designs emerge slowly from their dark caves. To research the best compostable plastic to keep your newly printed stationery safe from the elements of a stranger’s purse and then to wrap them up carefully and individually with their own little envelope. To sample fabrics with your hours and hours of work soaking their delicate threads. It makes me feel like Andy Warhol in my whole production phase. It’s as if everything I have ever designed was in reserve and just waiting for me to make it real. To produce something is a very different part of the creative process and I have thoroughly embraced it.

I am so grateful my community’s support of me. My friends have all been there for me with everything. Teaching me to use a sewing machine and spending hours shopping for the perfect display items, volunteering to drive me or sit with me in my booth in case I have to pee, giving me their opinions on everything. My bosses at work have offered to advertise the show. My family wants to buy everything.

The whole process has been completely enriching. I was thinking last night that if I worked this hard all the time, I could really be an artist. But then I also might die of stress and lack of sleep. I always remember how my college professor told me that I have a California laziness about me. She said it in a way that was like you don’t do enough, why are your projects never fully developed. For a long time, I thought the slowness about me might be the death of my art, but now I think it is actually the lifeblood. All of my best works were born in a presence and a slowness and then prepared and brought to life with the energy and striveyness that is generated in those moments. In all of the craziness of preparing for Renegade, I have realized that this ebb and flow will be the way I successfully become an artist.

I’ll keep you posted on this theory and I’ll let you know how the fair goes. I’m very excited to meet my new fans!