Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Art for Beginners and Despaired Ones: Relationships Are Key

Ayako Rokkau, Colours in my Hand (Delaive Gallery, Amsterdam) Art Cologne - April 12, 2011

  For young artists who don’t have much experience in the field, I would recommend getting to know some more experienced people. First, rely on teachers at school or associations. The best thing for sure are art schools where you usually have two categories: private schools and public ones. In private ones, you can start your training from scratch, even if you're not so skilled. If you have advanced skills, you can jump the first years. Otherwise, take part in a contest to enter a public school. But, as it is financed by the State, the level is high even for entering the first year. The advantage is that they cost much less in Europe.


  Then, it depends on which form of art you would like to learn. If you're looking to become an architect, school can't be avoided. If you're a musician or a painter, you can become a professional through different ways, as they're more substantial. You only have the embarrassment of choice. The top is the Conservatory and the school of Beaux-Arts, obviously, but you're not obliged to think this way: “I want to become a good painter so I have to go to the Beaux-Arts”. You can easily find teachers on the internet who are sometimes taught - or used to do so themselves - at the Beaux-Arts and teach in their own workshop with small groups (it can be at their own house sometimes). The atmosphere is more free and more relaxed. It doesn't mean they can't put you under pressure sometimes, but not like in traditional schools. Hey, who told you art is free so it's always easy? It depends on many aspects and on your motivation. If you feel you are tough enough on yourself, go ahead and go to the Beaux-Arts. I've seen work during my exhibitions from people who came from there and were tremendous already at a young age, with lots of events on their CV. But, don't forget that we are in the twenty-first century. The Academic way of learning has faded away in front of all the opportunities.

  As far as relations go, I am going to address myself to beginner painters, sculptors and photographers. It's obvious that you have to be a social person with an expansive mind, willing to learn from other people and not hesitating to show your work. Keep in mind that spectators may not like the work you think is best. One generally important thing in an artist’s life is that there are many artistic communities on the internet which allow us to easily show ourselves to the whole world. If you think you can rely solely on these website for your reputation, I'm sorry, you are on the wrong path. Sure, it is helpful but you have to see this as a plus, not as an end in itself. You should definitely go to galleries and present your portfolio. If you are lucky enough, it will come to you after a few tries, like it happened for me in a gallery of my neighborhood in Paris. Gallerists are really sensitive to new talents sometimes. If the feeling goes on, and you are confident and well dressed, you can make it.

  During your first open house, you can easily get lost and shy. I highly recommend your family and/or friends accompany you so you’ll be more relaxed. But, keep in mind that you have to open yourself to other people. Remember that the shorter the conversation with a new persons is, the less annoying you’ll be, unless they are really interested in your work and ask you questions. Exhibitions are like parties, you have to enjoy yourself. The more you behave this way, the more you'll create contacts that can be useful for later. Try as best you can to be in a good mood and smile often, even at people you don't share the warmest feelings with. I know it may sound hypocritical, but it's part of the job: make a good impression.

  Now, let's move on to the artists who are negative about themselves. Let me tell a little story about a painter. In the Turin subway, I found a business card on the ground. I emailed the guy after visiting his website and simply complimented him on his work. He answered, said thanks, but told me he didn't know if he should continue painting because we are living hard times. Nevertheless, he was cool, giving me some advice for enhancing my website. Well, he's right in a way. Earning a living with art has always been very difficult. And, we can lose faith because, of course, we need money, yet artwork today is mainly sold by really famous artists and dead ones. Art is not for making money. We do it for passion and because we cannot live without it, so meanwhile the only solution is to find a side job.

  We never have to lose faith or hope in our life because we only have one, so let's try to make it as good as we can. Still life is a genre to draw and paint, but our own lives must not be still the way a fruit basket is.
Federico Strazzullo

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