What does it take to make it as an artist?, is a question that I, along with thousands of recent Fine Art graduates have recently asked themselves, upon embarking on a quest to apply it to the creative industries.
Unfortunately it appears that a mentality similar to the “queen bees” of Mean Girls is the answer; the creative world is regrettably comparable to the hierarchy of a playground. It is a high school hockey field where popularity predetermines your ranking. In much the same way, it is not always what you know, but who you know that gets you far in the art world.
…the bonus of the art world is that no-one ever turned a blind eye…
The first step to success, and the key to this popularity that eludes most of us, is to dress accordingly. You must conform to the non-conformity that surrounds you in abundance in order to blend in enough to fit the code of “uniqueness”. In order to see things clearly in the art world a huge pair of spectacles with no lenses is necessary – ironic, but necessary. Unfortunately in my case, these large spectacles, replaced my actual spectacles and I promptly walked into a wall… I dubbed this act as performance art – it went down a treat!
Next, criticise everything and everyone; in other words, bitch with slightly elevated vocabulary. Group critiques truly do live up to their name! One girl in my university actually had a mental breakdown in her third year because of the levels of sheer maliciousness and snobbery. I must admit, that despite my bubbly, eccentric exterior, on several occasions the odd lecturer hit a nerve and I had to make a dash to the nearest toilet to prevent my eyeliner from smearing down my cheeks in a less than arty fashion. I emerged from the lavatory looking a bit like a smudged panda, but the bonus of the art world is that no-one ever turned a blind eye to this: in fact, I got many more menacing stares when I wore floaty pink dresses and long blonde hair extensions in the art block.
Playing the devil’s advocate is never a commendable approach…
I guess the rebellion against non-conformity (if you can get your head around the double negative) is not, after all, the answer despite the temptation to displease your tormentors! However tempting it might be to antagonise your aggressors, it is important to realise that such antagonism will only make aggressors more aggressive. It is all very well and good for me to sit here and criticise the irony that exists within the absurdities of art culture, but in order for me to actually combat such contradictory behaviour, I must stop being equally ironic in my actions. Playing the devil’s advocate is never a commendable approach to be taken whether you are considering the creative industries, or life in general. I may never fit the anti-stereotypical bill of being an artist; but then again, I’m hardly an Essex girl yet I used to work in the pub the TOWIE is filmed in.
Hair extensions and all manner of aesthetics aside, there will always be walks of life that become turbulent from time to time, some more so than others: and even more so when choosing to walk down a path dominated by mismatched socks! My advice is to those trying relentlessly, yet somewhat hopelessly, to fit in: simply be yourself!
…take a few deep breaths facing the mirror and dress yourself in your finest thick skin.
Fitting in, it appears, isn’t really the solution to making it as an artist. How can you possibly expect not be subjected to the prejudice of superficial stereotypes if you acknowledge them by either trying to live up to them or rebelling against them: either way you will inadvertently be making a statement to suggest that you care. Ignore the tediously pedantic criticisms and rather than focusing on your literal wardrobe focus on a more metaphorical one.
Upon deciding what outfit to wear each morning, rather than promptly dismantling the ensemble, take a few deep breaths facing the mirror and dress yourself in your finest thick skin. Snide remarks that find their way to me nowadays have lost their power. I will simply always be too mainstream for the liking of many individuals and too weird for my Essex alliances. However, both the work I create, and my appearance, whether they coincide or not, are personal to me; and that is what makes me the artist I am today.