When I first began making art 9 years ago, I had no idea what the job was about. I simply liked to quilt. It was that passion which got me started, but it wasn't the only skill needed to reach some level of "success". Little did I know how many hats an artist has to wear. And I took it for granted as simply something which one needed to do - period. But now that I'm in my period of reflection and preparation, I'm thinking a lot about the multifaceted set of talents an artist needs to have, completely beyond the scope of the artwork itself. Considering that their pockets usually aren't overflowing with money, rather than hiring other people, they are required to constantly educate themselves in so many different areas, in order to effectively share their art with others.
Spectators see the artwork and marvel at the skill and time needed to create it, but rarely do they understand all that needs to happen behind the scenes so that they can know about and see the work. This is not a complaint - in fact I'm writing this essay because I realized recently how much I love this aspect of being an artist - needing to be everything in one - a photographer, photo editor, website specialist, social media master, writer, videographer, bookkeeper, archivist, etc, etc. It keeps life interesting, it keeps one on their feet. Aside from never ever completely mastering one's skills in the making of art, one is also always developing these other skills, never running out of ways to progress and perfect their approach, make improvements.
This room for continual advancement of my abilities, this is my motivation. Do I love taking photos? No. Do I like figuring out how to take better photos? Yes! Do I have a passion for websites? No. Do I enjoy improving my own website and seeing the results? Yes! Do I find myself craving to write biographies and statements? No. Do I think it's an important way to help people understand my work? Yes! Do I have a passion for maintaining spreadsheets? No. Does it make my life as an artist easier? Yes! In fact, I think of my 7 year inventory spreadsheet as a work of art in itself!
The list goes on and on in this fashion.
When I stopped making art two years ago, I thought at the time that I wasn't using my brain enough, as if I was only using some imagination and my hands. It's only after my return that I see in fact how much of one's mental capacities are needed to progress in this field. I had simply taken it for granted at the time. So next time you go to an art exhibition and speak to the artist, in addition to congratulating them on the art itself, don't forget to appreciate all the work which happens behind the "work"! It's a constant, never-ending process which is always happening in parallel with the making. It's really a pretty amazing thing!