"there is always going to be some 17 year-old out there that's so much more talented than me"
I heard this being said by another artist not too long ago. He is a brilliant artist who now works at Dreamworks TV... He does not know me well nor does he know that I am in awe looking at his art progressing over the years, and I have always looked up to him, secretly.
I am not a 17 year-old genius that creates miraculous art works. In fact, I am quite the opposite. It is my 5th year out of college and I am not where I want to be. I am only one month shy to become a 28 year-old live-in nanny, and still barely have my foot in the door in the entertainment industry. I even had nightmares about being a live-in nanny upon the last few days of my summer vacation. The nightmares were so horrible I was sleep-sobbing at one point!
Is my life really that terrible, you ask? No, on the surface I am a really well loved person who is surrounded by family and friends. Often you would hear other artists' families don't support what they want to do...but not me, my mother supports me all the way. In fact, when I told other people I am a live-in nanny my mother would confront me not to do so. She would keep on talking until I had enough and lied to her: "All right, I am an artist. I won't introduce myself as a live-in nanny anymore!"
So it comes down to me reconcile with myself.....to believe that I am an artist.
I had been freelancing for a start up company for few months prior to my summer vacation. When I first began the job my mother voiced to me many uncomfortanle things like “How much do they pay you? Did you ask for copy right? You are an artist, you need to ask them to pay you more then minimum wage! ”
I was so unconfortable of what she was saying I often just tried to shut her down by telling her to go to bed, and hung up the phone as polite as I could; and believe me, I was so glad she lives on the other side of the ocean so I could just avoid her face to face nagging. However, I cannot deny what she was telling me was true and just. So I was preparing myself for a negotiation once the trial period was over.
Due to lack of expereince as a freelance artist I asked my mentor for guidance. He then pointed me to a book called The Graphic Artists Guild .
The first thing that really blew my mind was this section in the book
I needed to know my worth as an artist!
Since the beinging of my life I always know I love to draw, however, I dare not to call myself an “artist”; I am not even willing to call what I produce...art.
Instead of proclaiming “I am an artist” I say “I draw and paint”
Prior to reading this book no matter how many times people called me and ARTIST and refer to my works as ART, I always just shrugged them off and ignored what they said. I was incapable of accepting the term because I didn't feel worthy of the name. Then, something clicked when I first began reading the book. The mind blowing experience was unexpected.
I am an artist and I am worthy to be paid better than minimum wage, and worthy to asked for a contract.
So I began my negotiation with the company believing what I was asking of them was just. If they deny my request and decide to not work with me any more I have gained expreiences in negotiation anyway.
Not too long after, I asked another artist about being a freelance. He was a freelance artist prior to working at Disney TV. And he pointed me t a book called Art Inc .
It was another eye opening expereince.
I need to find works that my style already fits and improve upon that. If I do the other way around, which is follow the crowd and do whatever people want me to do...my art will look really uninteresting.
I had always been drawing and painting for people pleasing. I draw stuff that would make me more popular. Since I began to take my drawing career serious I often asked, “what do people like?”
There is nothing wrong in giving what people want, especially working for clients or art directors. However, I lost myself in the process of people pleasing that I don’t really know what is my voice as an artist even in my own personal art.
So here I am, I have a better sense of who I am and where I am heading after reading these books. At this moment in life, soon to be 28 years old, I am finally began to accept my journey is and always will look different then I wanted. If I get to choose, I want to be a brilliant 17 year-old artist who does miraculous arts and being appreciated by millions, but I am not.
Art is a process... I have got to accept where I am and improve upon that. And the good thing about not knowing who am I as an artist...I get to start out blank like a brand new canvas.