Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Business of Being an Artist

A few months ago, I read The Business of Being an Artist by Daniel Grant. It was among several other library books that I had checked out. I was drawing on these books for guidance as to why I am a nutritionally-challenged artist. His advice is helpful, but the chapters that he dedicated to spouse and family relations left me with big questions. How am I going to "make a name for myself" as an artist without marginalizing my family, beliefs, relationships, and ideals? (interpretation: how can I reliably pay the rent without selling my soul?) I also became very concerned about my wife and chldren's long-term emotional health (see excerpts below).

Grant, Daniel The Business of Being an Artist, Allworth Press, NY 2000

In chapter 9, Daniel Grant offers a view of the challenges of simultaneously pursuing a creative profession and maintaining a healthy family/self image. pp.233-239

Excerpts:

“Being an artist requires an ego of considerable size; two such people may find themselves clashing frequently, even if their disputes have nothing to do with their art of careers.”pp.233,234

“...Diego Rivera built for himself and his painter wife Frida Kahlo...two separate buildings, containing two separate living units and art studios, connected by a bridge on the second floor level”p.234

“...sculptor William King said, ‘When you’re married, you have to think of another person, and art is a very selfish activity’.”p.235

“The children of artists may understand what their parents are doing and share in aspects of it, but no one can truly participate in another’s creative act.”p.236

“The mixture of condescending patronage and hypercriticism with which people usually approach the son of a great writer rather hinders than helps him.”-Klaus Mann, author of three existential novels, son of Nobel Prize winner, Thomas Mann, committed suicide at age 45. p.236

“The legacy of this colony [Cornish Colony] was over forty-five divorces and a dozen suicides among the children of these artists.” p.237

“’A name inflames peoples’ ideas and expectations. It’s a cultural defect’, said Jonathan Shahn, sculptor son of Ben Shahn.” p.239

My goal for the forseeable future is to develop a healthy, collaborative artmosphere for my family. Even if it means that I need to deny my own ego/delay my career in order to build up the group. With that, I will leave you with a few questions to ponder.

Is there any room for a selfish artist in a healthy marriage?

Is it possible to sell art successfully without creating a persona for collectors to idolize?

2 Comments:

Blogger Sean Biggler said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:25 PM  
Blogger DaveShack said...

When I read a recent issue of Christian History magazine dedicated to chronicling the life of George MacDonald, I was greatly inspired by the way he was able to lead a life that organically combined family and art. He had eight or ten kids and got them involved in acting out theater and creating their own work. Their home in Italy was a community hub and it seems like the whole family ethos was built around the idea of creativity, warmth and hospitality. GM was always big on understanding and practicing the love of a loving and creative Father, and it's interesting to see how much he prized that loving Father concept in his theology and life.

Here's a link to the web version of that issue. I think that they will actually make all the article links live during the next month, since the issue before this one is all live now.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/2005/002/

5:59 AM  

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