Art is not the most lucrative career path. It is uncertain, exhausting, and yet, can be incredibly fulfilling.
When artists get together and talk they understand that art is not always going to pay the the bills and so they’ll throw around this phrase that I didn’t understand at first. They’ll ask each other about their studio practice.
It’s essentially asking if they are still creating work. Working on their craft, continuing to get better.
Studying theatre and wanting to be an artist I always had this thought that if I wasn’t making money doing the work then I wasn’t really an artist. That gremlin of thought then logically turned into, if I wasn’t making money then why continue to do it?
I looked at community theatre as amateurish and beneath me. I had a greater to desire to be a professional then I did at creating art.
Now that I am a non-art professional I find ways to be creative, I write, I podcast, I make things. I like to think that there is certain amount of creativity I bring to my job. I do this not because I need it to survive but because I want to. I enjoy the process. Sometimes I don’t want to, but I push myself to create because I like looking back and seeing what I created. I feel better about having done the work then wasting my time consuming.
When I heard about this concept of a studio practice if resonated with me. Continuing to practice for the sake of practice.
From what I can tell most artists never set out to be artists. They just were.
Similar to how entrepreneurs don’t really set out to be entrepreneurs. Real entrepreneurs find problems everywhere they look. They recognize the value of the solution and that people are willing to pay for those solutions.
Similarly artists natural see things in a different light and need make art in order to make sense of their thoughts or to work through a problem. There is a line in the Weezer song El Scorcho that I’ve thought about a lot.
How stupid is it?
I can’t talk about it.
I gotta sing about it
And make a record of my heart.
n The French Laundry Cookbook, Thomas Keller tells the story of Ingrid Bengis who was his fishmonger. She was the fishmonger for a lot restaurants. But what most people didn’t realize was that Ingrid Bengis was a Fulbright Scholar, a professor and an author.
The whole fishmonger thing was an accident. For some extra cash she went out and collected chanterelle mushrooms for a restaurant in New York. When they asked asked her for 20 more pounds she told them to go to hell, then they asked if she could get them lobster. Turned out she new some lobstermen.
One thing led to another and she was connecting more than lobstermen to restaurants.
There are lot of things that I love about this story. One of them is breaking down this idea that people just do one thing.
I grew up with this notion that I am a ___________. Because that who I was I believed that’s who I would always be. Or do. Or think. Or believe. It’s a very black and white, middle school way of thinking.
But the older I get the more I’ve realized that I am not just that one thing. I am more than that. I am multiple things. Those things change and evolve over time. Just because I liked to play Magic: The Gathering in grade six doesn’t meant that I have to continue to play now. Although I could have sold my cards now for a pretty penny.
That realization was enlightening. To understand that I am a complex human being with desires, personality quirks, fears, talents, abilities, insecurities and a million other things. That all of those things are part of me and that’s it ok.
Understanding that the concept of a studio practice became way more poignant.
A studio practice gives me an excuse to explore those different parts of me. My daily work and family life have a tendency to occupy a lot of my time and headspace. But implementing a studio practice sets aside time and potentially space (the reason houses in the 90’s advertised having an office) to dive deep.
It doesn’t matter what the studio practice looks like. It’s up to me and it can change depending on what it is I’m trying to accomplish. My studio has been a notebook, the gym, a computer, a kitchen table, and shower. The idea is to set up a deliberate practice.
What are you working on outside of work?
What does your studio practice look like?
What do you want your studio practice to look like?