If I am being honest with myself, I need constant reassurance. Working alone doesn’t always lend itself to that, so I seek it out. I know this sounds needy or desperate and maybe a little self-centered, but I know that most of us need it, and self doubt is just inevitable. Creating is a channel by which we connect with people, so reassurance and a little attention here and there keeps our work going. Maybe there are artists who don’t need that, who strive in a completely solitary existence, who are so confident in themselves and their own work that they don’t need anyone’s approval or attention. But that’s definitely not me. There’s this balance that I strive for in which my art 1. needs to have some commercial appeal, whether you call that trending, marketable, or Instagram friendly 2. needs to have a place in the fine arts world and wouldn’t make my college art professors cringe and 3. it must be unique.
I have listened to podcasts on this matter, and if you are looking for a great one,”The Savvy Painter” is gold. My very talented artist friend, Lizzy, told me about it and I have been totally hooked. It’s so comforting to hear artists of all ages all over the world struggle with the exact same things. I think as millennials we often get criticized for being stubborn, not listening to superiors and pretending like we have all the answers when we definitely don’t. I resent that. I constantly crave advice and insight. When I am not painting, or babysitting, or doing graphic design projects, I am bothering fellow artists with questions. This brings me to today’s topic: mentorship.
It’s really freaking important and requires meeting with someone (in person) on a regular basis. I reached out to a local artist whom I really admire (Lisa Bachman- she is amazing) and asked if I could be a studio assistant to her back in the spring, she basically just said I could come paint with her and it has honestly been the best thing that’s happened to me in my art career thus far. Everyone needs a mentor. There’s nothing more motivating than having someone you look up to and has created success for him or herself, taking enough interest in you to want to guide you. So I guess my advice is, offer to volunteer for someone you admire in exchange for some advice and intros. Creating a community for yourself when you aren’t handed with one, say in an office job, is essential.
I also think it’s important to seek advice from successful people in your career field who do something totally different from you. For example, I try to meet with a variety of artists whether they are on the more commercial/ interior design side, the fine arts side, the totally weird and “what the heck is that” genre, artists just starting out, and experienced masters. Notice the words “try to meet”. It’s definitely not easy to set up tons of meetings each week when you are really busy and so are they, but I make it a priority and set aside at least 3 hours each week to meet with someone from whom I want to learn. Bribing them with bagels is a good strategy.
Mentorship really is the key to staying on track. Not only can they provide you with great advice, but also tons of opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise know existed. There are days when I get incredibly stressed about my income or lack there of, and find myself feeling really aimless and wasting time on things that don’t matter, but I find a lot of comfort in knowing that every successful artist has felt this way at some point and figured out a way up.
I’d love to hear about how you stay on track, what your mentors have taught you, or anything else in this blog that you can relate to or even just totally disagree with! Please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Here’s a little bonus tip for staying on track! I received this Self Journal created by Best Self for my birthday and it’s been a life saver. It keeps my days intentional and productive and allows me to clearly see a path to my goals. I will be adding these little casual advertisements for various products I use after each blog (will warmly welcome sponsorships *cough cough* this blog reaches over 7 people per month!! Talk about a great advertising opportunity...), so if you have something you think is just the bomb whether it’s art supplies, clothing brands, beauty products, books, recipes, office supplies, or whatever, please email me!!