The following interview is part of a class assignment for Entrepreneurship and the Hero Adventure at SMU, Meadows School of the Arts. Each interview has been conducted and created by students for this course, which celebrates those heroes in our communities. Heroism, for the purpose of this course and assignment is described as:
- Service of something larger than oneself.
- A willingness to sacrifice in the name of service.
Author: SMU student Alex Monroe
How do you feel you fulfill the role as an entrepreneurial artist in the art world?
I walk a fine line between a businessman and an artist with every piece that I sell. I think that any producing artist in today’s world has to have an entrepreneurial mindset in order to take advantage of all the ways to promote, advertise, and sell their work. To succeed in the Pinterest flooded “make art following these 5 simple steps” idealogy driving today’s consumer, I feel that it is not enough to simply be an artist…you must take on roles beyond the creation of your work. For me, this deals with promotion, communication, being in touch with current trends and markets, and price points.
Do you have any mentors in your career or in your personal life that have helped you further yourself and your artistic pursuits?
The biggest mentors and examples I have in my life are my Mom and Dad. It’s not that they have necessarily pushed me as a visual artist; but more, instilled in me to pour myself into my work. They have shown me a clear picture of commitment, sacrifice, steadfastness, and passion for life. They always praised hard work, and set a standard in us kids to give everything we take on our care and our heart. Even when we were young, my parents taught my sisters and I to put craftsmanship into anything we made. They instilled this idea in me that I could literally make anything I put my mind too. I feel that this continues to drive my work today.
Have there been any personal struggles/emotional dragons that you have had to overcome within your work as an artist? If so, how did you overcome them?
I think that the biggest struggle deals with producing what I want versus what I know sells. There is always a risk with exploring a new body of work, and that is a wonderfully beautiful stress…but this goes beyond that. When you are producing work as a business, you HAVE to consider your consumer. In some ways this consideration of what someone else wants hinders the creative process. I think that to sell your work you have to get past this by producing work that is relevant and important to you…yet be cognizant enough of your buyer to see ways to connect your vision to their own experience and aesthetic.
Is there anything that you are currently working on that you would care to share?
I am currently starting over. That sounds much more dramatic than it is. I allowed my previous web site to lapse, so that I could in essence reinvent my work and brand. I am starting an entirely new body of work that deals with texture and surface via collage and paint to help narrate these hauntingly simple landscapes and portraits. It is bringing a new weight and purpose to my process, materials, and palette …all the while allowing me to narrate a story. It has been incredible. I feel that this move will make one portfolio of my work more appealing to commercial buyers and decorators/designers.
What three pieces of advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who are entering the market, following university?
1. The key ingredient to success as an artist (and most other ventures) is hard work. Ability is good; even necessary for some things, but work ethic will hone that ability into something all its own. WORK.
2. Put down your phone. I know I know…your promoting yourself…it’s all about networking…blah blah blah. The problem is to many people are networking and not enough people are working. Get rid of as many distractions as you can. Your Instagram post and the baby panda video will not pay your bills. Refer to #1.
3. Find Balance. First, read #1 again. To be committed to your work , your ideas, and your process, you have to find balance. The good things in life are what feed your ideas and your creative spirit. I don’t know what this looks like for you…maybe its live music, maybe its movies, maybe its family…Whatever it is, make sure and balance the work you pour out with the life you pour in. Do not use this as an excuse to negate #1…nor should #1 negate this…they have to exist together. Believe in what you are doing.
Entrepreneurship in the Hero Adventure will be taught again in the Spring of 2014.
This course offering was lead by Director of Arts Entrepreneurship, Jim Hart