I am just beginning to learn how to get involved in the art world. I’ve always been on the outside looking in so to speak. At Meredith College I was an audit student through the continuing education program. It was wonderful, I learned a lot, and was successful in my studies. I even got Best of Show one year in the student show but since I wasn’t a regular tuition paying student, I felt like a fraud. It’s irrational but that’s the way I felt. I would tell people that I was studying art but never call myself an artist. When I got into NC State’s College of Design’s master’s program, I felt validated! The feeling was short lived when I was thrown in with undergraduates for all of my studios (I was the only graduate student in Art & Design!) I was criticized for having great technique and not attempting new things due to the risk of failure. What I couldn’t get across to my instructors was the fact that most of what they were asking me to do sounded foreign and I lived with the fear of failure therefore I worked much harder! I tried many new mediums; I attribute my success with them to my solid foundation from Meredith and my perseverance! NC State’s instructors main method of instruction was intimidation and when I refused to bow to that, I was shunned by them. I got along great with my fellow students, they encouraged each other and included me; if it weren’t for them, I’d never have made it through the studios!
When I got out of school, I didn’t know how to start plying my trade so I played it safe and continued to work as a tax accountant. I could work hard at my art and stick my neck out with my illustrations; failure was disappointing but not a big deal and since success for an artist is achieved through good marketing, my acceptance (even expectance) of failure held me back.
Enough about how wimpy I am! Two years ago I moved into a studio with three other women. It was so much easier for me to relax and show my work that I actually started feeling like an artist! Two of the women were replaced by my new friend Lee and the dynamics changed! Lee, Julie and I are as different as night and day on the surface but so similar on a basic level that we play off each other in a way that creates a lot of energy! My art has evolved, I have found my medium at last, and I actually enjoy talking to people about my work. Lee knows how to get involved and I am learning from her.
My first foray into networking was to apply for membership in Local Color Gallery co-op. Local Color is a group of women that work together to promote each other. I learned a lot the first year, I mostly listened. Then I volunteered to take over the website! Now I’m an integral part of the group. Next I joined the Visual Art Exchange (VAE). As usual, I was slow to become involved. Lee and I took a class through them entitled Living Your Art; I learned a lot about myself and how I’ve changed over the last decade. I gained courage and confidence as we shared our inner fears and frustrations, I didn’t feel like a weirdo. It was during this class that Lee and I decided to follow our dreams, to just do it! She wants to quit teaching in the public schools and I want to create websites. We have joined efforts and I think that by next spring when she quits teaching, we will be fully launched as web designers! Networking will be extremely important to building a client base.
Our motivation to form a business is helping to define who I am. Last year I decided to get the tenants of building that our studio is in to organize and work together to fix up the building and promote ourselves. It was mostly a failure; we did get the downstairs hallway and entrance painted but that was it. After the VAE class, Lee and I decided that it was time to try again. This time was the charm! The group that we have formed is very enthusiastic and willing to work on projects to get things done. I am the facilitator, I send the emails and delegate the work to keep people involved. It’s very rewarding to see what we’ve accomplished is a short period of time and to have gained everyone’s respect. A year ago, I couldn’t have handled it.
I volunteered to represent our group in the local merchant’s association which is full of very interesting people. Hopefully this will introduce me to a lot of new people, I already signed up to serve on 2 committees. And I applied for an open position on the Board of Directors of the VAE as treasurer…..and I got it! I know that this will introduce me to a lot of people that will be good for my personal endeavors.
In only a few short months, I’ve gone from being a wall flower to being a full fledged participant and sometimes leader. These are big steps for me. It’s scary! This journal is both my means of documenting the journey and a record of personal growth. Journaling has always been an important tool for figuring out life and I hope that this one will be helpful to others that are starting the journey to becoming successful artists (or in any endeavor!).