Before I committed to my life as an artist, I did things that showed I actually had a brain. I say that tongue in cheek, and hope you have a sense of humour. You do, right? Okay, good. Read on. If you don’t, well, I can’t help you there…..
Not to say that artists these days are a bit vacant upstairs, but I am sure the perception of the general public is that we don’t really do much else anyway, and what the hell does thinking have to do with making art?
Yes, I am being a bit facetious, but please read on…
The artists of my generation were not always artists. Without revealing my age (I am still the younger side of 50), and thinking too hard, I know many people who are currently practicing artists but who had a traditional working job prior to committing to being a full time artist. For example, one friend was a teacher, another was a tv producer and skater, and of course myself, who was in the military and wore a ton of hats depending on the day, the posting and the CO.
Being a teacher, of course, necessitates that you need to be a few steps ahead of the students, and implies an agile and exploratory mind. Being a tv producer means you need to juggle tasks and people, and being a skater means you need to have the physical coordination and agility so you don’t trip anyone else on the performance floor. Being in the military means you have to constantly improve your performance and knowledge-base of everything under the sun and be steps ahead of your CO and your CO’s CO. All of these jobs include the requirement of event planning, from 10 people to 500 people, and those abilities similar to that of a symphony conductor.
Unfortunately, being an artist means we are usually an addictive personality type – now this doesn’t mean we walk around on crack every day, it is just that we can be somewhat obsessive (is that like a little bit pregnant?), and regardless if we are artists, the thirst for knowledge is a hard addiction to break. (On the other hand, we are also more likely to be stalkers than the “normal” person. What’s normal anyway? I think that is a total fallacy.) Previous careers indicate we possess a diverse multi dimensional experience. These careers indicate a requirement for organization, initiative, sometimes intuition but most definitely intelligence.
Now why on earth would this be important do you ask? I am so glad you asked that. The next time you see an artist, or talk with an artist, ask them what they did before being an artist, it will open doors for communication and understanding. All this previous experience informs their work. It has to. And it makes it incredibly rich and unique, and you would be lucky to own it.