Sep 5, 2007

school's out

Alec has opened a can of worms this morning with a brilliant post on art schools, and i'm pleased to see such a wide array of positions shared. school has always been a bit of a sore spot for me. i have a 'fine art degree' from an Illinois state school, but shutter at the term 'fine art'. always have. the institution i studied at perpetuated the notion of the starving artist. embraced it. your art was worth struggling for, and was measured by the pain you endured. great art was made wile eating Top Ramen, drinking cheap wine, and toiling in isolation. uniqueness alone was enough to ensure that you would be discovered (another popular myth).

i think the downfall, my downfall at the time, was a disconnect with the art world, a lack of business acumen, marketing, networking, and an overall feel for what the reality was outside our classroom. what does it actually mean to be an artist? how do you get your work seen? how do you BE an artist? all ridiculous questions for a guy struggling to find a voice. i mistook making art, with being an artist. later, i found that the two are not mutually exclusive.

speed up, almost a decade later, and failed attempts at painting, writing, illustration, dreaming, i found photography. and it stuck. it made sense. taking my education into my own hands now, is the best thing that i've ever done. i'm self taught, but working harder now than i ever did in school. books, shows, blogs, other photographers (more on this later), good old fashioned trial and error, self analysis, and most importantly - being honest with myself- has lead me to a point where i'm excited every day for the first time in my creative life. i'm moving at a slower pace maybe, but i'm excited and confident in my direction. and most important maybe, is that i'm an adult. i see the world clearly now. i'm unencumbered by the peripherals of being young. maybe some of the angst is gone, but what remains is more acutely directed.

i like to think that those days of cutting out shapes of colored construction paper and making collages depicting fruit to better understand Matisse has made me a better photographer. somehow i doubt it, but it makes the student loans easier to pay.

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