The fact is that being an artist unfortunately isn’t usually the most glamourous path in life. Yes, there’s the occasional “famous artist” who ends up in the media and there are a lot of thoroughly cool bohemian artists throughout history.
But, most of the time, creating art can just feel fairly ordinary. And, if you watch any videos about art on Youtube, then you’ll probably just see lots of footage of ordinary people painting or drawing.
Like with writing, there’s a lot of cool cultural mythology that surrounds art – but the basic process of making most types of art is quite similar to writing. Basically, you just sit in a room and work on something for anything between a few minutes and a few hours.
Lots of cool stuff can happen, but it only usually happens in your imagination and on the page (or canvas). And, yes, most serious artists don’t get into making art because it’s “cool” or whatever.
In fact, this whole thing is probably something of a litmus test to see whether you actually want to be an artist. If you’re getting into art purely because you want to be “cool”, then you probably aren’t going to stick with it for that long.
If you want to be “cool”, then buy some interesting clothes, listen to some trendy music or become a micro-celebrity on Twitter or whatever. There are plenty of easier ways to be cool than spending years learning an art form and practicing every day.
Still, even the most practical artist probably wants to feel glamourous and cool every now and then. There’s no point having an amazingly cool cultural mythology surrounding what we do and not taking advantage of it every now and then in order to keep our spirits up.
So, here are four ways to feel like a glamourous artist when your artistic work feels like the most mundane and “ordinary” thing in the world.
1) Art history: Whether you read a book about art history, watch a documentary on TV, watch history videos on Youtube or just look at articles on Wikipedia – it can be useful to look back at the periods of history when art was a much more vibrant thing that was widely loved and respected by everyone. You know, the periods of history when artists were the “rockstars” of the day.
Whether it’s editorial cartoonists in 1920s-1950s Britain, whether it’s the “Young British Artists” in the 1990s, whether it’s the Pre-Raphaelites in 19th century London, the impressionists in 19th century Paris or even well-respected Ukiyo-e printmakers in 17th-19th century Japan – there have been plenty of times throughout history when artists have been as widely popular and glamourous as celebrities are today.
Don’t ask me why, but doing even a small amount of research into these parts of history can really boost your spirits and remind you that being an artist can be a cool thing. Not only that, it might make you wonder what the next art-obsessed period of history will be – who knows, you might even end up being part of it?
2) Write a manifesto: Yes, this is pretentious as hell, but there’s nothing like writing an art manifesto in order to feel “trendy” or “cool”.
If you’ve never read one of these before, it’s basically a short list of numbered bullet points which sum up an artist’s philosophy about their art or their type of art. I tried to write one for this blog (based on my “fast art” article) in February, but found it too laughably terrible to post here.
Anyway, art manifestos are usually written in a very melodramatic and pretentious way and they can often be unintentionally hilarious. But, especially with any kind of “modern art”, they’re pretty much mandatory and they are somehow a sign that you should be taken seriously as an artist. Don’t ask me why.
Still, if you have any new ideas about art and you’ve written a manifesto, then you can at least say that you’ve started an art movement. And I can’t think of anything cooler than that.
3) Make cool art: If making art feels “dull” or “mundane”, then this might be a sign that you’re making dull or mundane art. You’re making art that doesn’t feel “cool” to you.
So, go on – make something that really amazes you. Make something (even if it’s just fan art) that you, and you alone, think is really cool and interesting.
Believe me, it’s impossible to feel like what you’re doing is “boring” or “uncool” when you’re making a painting like this:
4) Watch TV Shows: No, don’t just watch any TV shows – watching the news will probably depress you and watching reality TV or talent shows will probably make you lose all faith in humanity.
No, watch sci-fi/fantasy/detective/drama shows which feature a group of characters who do something incredibly cool on a regular basis.
Then, and this is the fun part, try to imagine your daily art practice as being something comparable to what the characters in this show do. After all, it’s something unusual you do every day, like how the characters in the TV show do something unusual every day. This is kind of weird and hard to explain, but it can really help to revitalise your enthusiasm about your art.
If you’re still not sure what kinds of shows to watch, then I’d recommend an American sci-fi show from the 1990s/2000s called “Stargate SG-1”. It features a group of soldiers and scientists who use alien technology to travel to a variety of interesting planets and also save the world on an occasional basis.
Seriously, if you want a “doing cool stuff every day” kind of show, then you can’t go wrong with “Stargate SG-1”.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂