MYTH #1: Artists are messy and disorganized
Anyone who has been to my house knows this isn’t true. It’s easy to assume that all artists fit into that mold portrayed in movies and tv shows: brushes and debris trailing through the studio inhabited by someone with a paint-splattered smock who hasn’t washed their hair in two weeks. Somehow artists have obtained a reputation for sacrificing hygiene and cleanliness for the pursuit of their art. Perhaps it’s the belief that creativity may strike you at any time, at any place, and other priorities get moved down the list when that happens—and that very well may happen for lots of artists and is totally justified. But we’re not all cut from the same cloth (hence, this list of myths). During those days when inspiration is not particularly forthcoming, I actually find that if I get the rest of my life organized, I can focus more wholeheartedly on making space for the inspiration to come. So when my home is in order, my checkbook is balanced (anyone still do that?), and after I’ve cleared out my inbox, I can expect that my creative juices will be flowing in no time.
MYTH #2: Artists bring art into every aspect of their lives
Every artist has such distinctly different abilities, it’s interesting that there are often assumptions about the extent of their artistic-ness (Yes, that’s a made-up word, but it’s ok I’m an artist). Being an artist doesn’t necessarily mean I’m always artistically dressed. Being an artist doesn’t necessarily mean every square inch of my home is perfectly decorated. Being an artist doesn’t necessarily mean I can paint faces at your kid’s birthday party. Sometimes artists are not completely defined by their art, and that’s ok. Sometimes I want to go home and do something very much NOT artistic, like binge 30 Rock and order a pizza (sacrebleu!). And that’s ok. Because artists need space to be real just like everyone else- that way when the art happens, we can start so fresh and so clean.
MYTH #3: Artists always knew they were supposed to be artists
Let this be an encouragement to those of you who doubt whether you have an artistic bone in your body: you probably do. Just because you weren’t that kid in kindergarten with a finger painting of Starry Night doesn’t mean you can’t tap into your creative abilities later in life. Let me tell you a little secret: I almost failed Art class in high school. Yea, I was the kid with the finger painting that looked more like Van Gogh’s dismembered ear than anything else. I hated drawing and painting and every assignment I was given only made me feel discouraged. I didn’t fit into the box of what I (and my teacher) thought an artist was supposed to be, so I gave up and pursued other things… for ten years. It took me that long to realize this is where I was meant to be all my life (and often I still doubt it, because we artists do that sometimes). So if you have any inclination whatsoever to create, do it. I can’t stress that enough.
MYTH #4: Artists are always good at drawing
This is a side bar to the previous myth—there are so many different types of artists. Painters (from oil to watercolor to murals to so much more), pencil sketchers, collage builders, sculptors, embroiderers, jewelry makers, digital illustrators, typographers, abstractionists, impressionists, glass blowers, photographers, videographers, animators, curators, web developers, interior designers, scrapbookers (ha. just kidding)… You know I could keep going. Yet somehow the minute someone finds out you’re an artist they immediately say “Ooh can you draw me?” Enough said.
MYTH #5: Artists have to starve
“A living is made by selling something that everybody needs at least once a year. You artists, you painters, produce nothing that nobody needs never.” -Horace Vandergelder, Hello Dolly
As lovable and hilarious as grouchy old Mr. Vandergelder is, he’s clearly off-base with his claim. It’s certainly a competitive market for artists in the days of easily accessible google images and DIY. You don’t have to spend too much time on Instagram to see that there are thousands of 15- year-olds who are better at their craft than you. However, what I do love about today’s social kingdom is the emphasis on supporting local artists and makers. There are opportunities for collaboration everywhere, so start building your community and find the art all around you. Don’t let fear make you think it isn’t possible to make a living pursuing your passions- we’re all gifted with different abilities and dreams and we can all fit them into this giant puzzle of the world if we work together. And don’t listen to Horace- we definitely all need art in our lives, even more than once a year. 🙂