Part of why I chose to follow a career in finance rather than art was I thought it would be easier to do art as a hobby, and something mathsy as a job than the other way around. It is awesome to do something you love for work. The two other bits of the equation are that it needs to be something you are good at, and something people are willing to pay for. The thorny issue is that art is often about being brave. Creating art is about venturing out into new places and learning. That is often not the stuff that people are willing to pay for. So even if you crack the code and find that perfect match making something people love, will that then mean you can't venture out any more?
A few years back I managed to cash in a little on the mathsy bit as a muse. I started renting a studio at the Wimbledon Art Studios. A converted Industrial park building houses about 140 artists. Twice a year they open their studios to the public. There is a wide range of potters, sculptors, jewellers, photographers and painters. I had the advantage of not having to worry about whether the art sold or not. Well, in theory. In practice, you still want your stuff to sell if only for the validation that you aren't pretending. The trick is that that is a bonus rather than a stick. Artists tend to beat themselves up enough without having to worry about eating.
I was in the studios for over 4 years, and in that time did over 70 paintings and participated in 6 open studios. They start on a Thursday and run for 4 days. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to speak to the artists and people are bound to find something they love given the variety. It was also a chance for me to get to know many of the other artists. Since I came in on the weekends to paint, it was a little quieter. Although I did get to know some of the weekend stalwarts. Once I stopped my day job, I got to join in with a weekly midweek lunch where a group of us got together.
During the time, I took advantage of the lock and go nature of my studio and the ability to make as much mess as I like. I love oil paint but it does make finding a spot to release my crazy a little difficult. For those four years I had that release. I played with colour and texture. Each weekend, I would come in on a Saturday and Sunday for a two or three hour burst of creativity. Then the week would give the oils a chance to dry so I could attack again with forks, combs, knives, brushes, sponges, clothes and whatever I could find that would help me add character to the pieces.
Then twice a year, I would try create a semblance of order so I could show people what I had been up to. The one problem with that was I was trapped in my studio for the four days, unable to wander and see what the other artists had been up to! I would do a little dash every now and then, but if you spend a minute in each studio, it would still take you more than two hours. I think art is a little like wine, chocolate, coffee, cheese and all the other things that dazzle our tongues, eyes and ears. You can over dazzle. I think the perfect way to do it, like a lot of things, is at leisure.
So I am looking forward to doing that tomorrow. I gave up my studio when I purged and decided to go wandering. So for this show, I am going to be able to just enjoy. If you are in London, I hope to see you there. Feel free to feed the artists.
My 'mo'ment comes at around 0:50. The shows are in May and Movember.