“Ignited” Mixed Medium on Canvas 20″ X 23″ – Passion rebuilds the world, it brings dreams and dreamers to life, It makes all things alive and significant, it burns with desire to move forward no matter what the odds are… Passion, true passion is a powerful thing 😀 – http://www.Rafiwashere.com
“Seductions Dream” Mixed Medium on Canvas 13″ X 30″ – I wanted to capture and accentuate the amazing perfection, beauty and curved edges of the powerful features of the body.
“Tree of Life” Mixed Medium on Canvas 24″ X 24″ – it’s no secret that I am fascinated by trees, especially The Tree of Life connecting all forms of creation above and below… I love this piece. Http://www.rafiwashere.com
One of the things I like most about working on art at the market is being able to mingle and have conversations with thousands of people that walk through there every Saturday and Sunday. It’s a chance to jump into the diversity of life and share my art and my self expression.
Believe it or not, not every conversation I have at the market is about art technique and form, in fact I would say that the majority of conversations I have are about life and relationship. In my opinion art is always an expression of self, whether you are the creator or the observer. Many people when observing my art see something that either relates or contradicts something that they believe about life, this then brings about some of the most interesting dialogs I have ever had.
One intriguing conversation I had recently began after someone saw a pair of my paintings called “Expressions.” These paintings represent faces with slightly different expressions that tell an opposite story to the other.
The person walked up and said “I love this painting, what was your inspiration?” Since I always seem to have difficulty with this question because my inspirations come from so many different places within myself, I responded with a question.
“What do you see when you look at this piece?”
“I see two people who have a good relationship because they understand that the only way to make it work is to compromise” she responded.
This caught me by surprise because I actually believe the opposite of that statement.
“Really, that’s interesting.” I said.
“Why do you think that’s interesting?”
“Well, when I look at this painting I see two people who are not willing to compromise who they are for anyone, and definitely not for each other.”
She looked confused by my statement so I continued to elaborate
“I think a lot of people are just used to thinking that they are supposed to compromise in order to make relationships work because they try to model after terrible examples of relationships. They see people who will give something up about themselves in order to make someone else happy and expect the same in return.”
She looked at the painting for a while and said “But there has to be some kind of compromise, two people just can’t get along with every aspect of the person they’re with.”
I smiled “I used to think that too, but I realized a few years ago that it is easier to find someone who loves you for you and someone you love for who they are than try and change someone into a person.”
“In fact” I continued “I realized that no one can be changed anyhow. No one changes until they are ready to change, and the only way they will be ready to change is if they’ve changed their point of view about themselves, but they will never change for you… Just like you will never truly change for anyone else. You might say you are changing for them but the truth is that if you are changing something about yourself it is always for you, if not it’s more work than it’s worth and you’ll most likely fail.”
She stared at me for what seemed like forever, her eyes were very intense. “So what do you do if someone gets on your nerves when they do or don’t do something constantly?”
“It all depends on what it is. If it is something that is harmful to me, for example if the person is constantly physically or verbally hurting me then I get as far away from them as possible and delete them from my life… My rule of thumb with any type of abuse is that the people around me will always abuse me slightly less than I abuse myself so if I experience any abuse at all in my life and “dealing” with it then I look closely at how I talk and treat myself. “But” I continued “If it’s something silly on my part, like my spouse always leaves the dirty dishes on the table then I have to consider that dishes on the table are a bigger priority to me than to my spouse.”
She held her hand up “Yeah, so they should put the dishes away and make a compromise. If I clean the house then they should at least put the dishes in the sink or pick their clothes off the bathroom floor.”
“I understand” I said “I’m only sharing my opinion, but I notice when I am completely focused on why I think someone else does or doesn’t do something, I usually feel like a victim, a tyrant or a combination of both. In any situation I look at myself, if something is bothering me than it’s up to me to do something about it… If clothes on the bathroom floor bother me for what ever reason I pick it up, if dishes in the sink bother me, I wash them. If the house is dirty and I prefer it clean, I clean it.”
“But, what if you get tired of cleaning after someone else?” She asked.
“I can’t answer that.” I said.
She scowled “Why not?”
“Because I don’t clean up after anyone, if I see something and it bothers me, I clean it… I do not clean for anyone else and I don’t clean after anyone… I simply clean for the sake of keeping myself happy if that’s what it takes at that moment. In fact everything I do is for the sake of making myself happy at that moment.” I smiled “Everything I do and everything I am is me, I never lie because I have nothing to hide from and I never do anything if it makes me feel like a victim, but most importantly I know that if I feel like a victim it’s because I’m looking at something like a victim.”
“Well, I’m not a victim, I just hate cleaning up after him.” She said
“Then don’t do it.” I said.
“If I don’t do it, it will never get done.” She said.
“So let it never get done.” I said.
“But it would just be easier if he cleaned up after himself.” She said.
“Does he care?” I asked.
“No, he would just let the house be dirty.” She said.
“So you want him to change, to make you happy?” I asked.
“Yes, him cleaning up after himself will make me happy.” She said.
“So basically what your saying is that your happiness is based on whether or not he decided to clean up after himself. If he never again cleaned up after himself you would just be miserable for the rest of your life. To me, it seems like you’re putting your happiness in his hands when it would be easier to keep it in your hands.” I said.
“God, it feels that way sometimes.” She sighed.
“So why do you clean it?” I asked.
“Because it bothers me.” She responded.
“But it doesn’t bother him?” I asked.
“No.” She sighed again.
“Then you’re actually cleaning it up for yourself because if it didn’t bother you, you would just leave it and go about your day, but instead you make the choice to clean up because it makes you feel good. This is what I mean when I say that I don’t clean up after anyone or for anyone… I do everything because I feel good doing it. When I wash dishes, I don’t stand there and think about how no one else does dishes because that would make me feel like a victim to everyone else… I just do the dishes and clean up because I feel like doing it, not because I’m expected to and not because no one else will do it, but because I want to… It’s all about perspective.”
“So I should just clean up after my husband and be quiet?” She asked
“Nope, clean because you feel like having a clean house. If you don’t, that’s no big deal either, it’s not like someday you’ll be on your deathbed and think to yourself -man, I wish I had bleached the tub more often. Like I said, if it feels good I do it, if it doesn’t I don’t. When I clean the house, I put on the radio and enjoy the entire process and then bask in the feeling of a clean house… I never think about who else is doing what, I just think about what I’m feeling. If I don’t feel like doing it, I don’t, plain and simple.”
“I get it, you choose how you feel… If I choose to feel good about doing what I do then no one can take that away from me because it’s my choice.” She said with a smile.
“Yup, like the faces in the paintings… the expression you wear and the feelings you have are always a choice no matter what the situation is.” I said.
“That’s awesome! I love that painting! Well it was nice talking to you.” then she walked away.
I smiled and wondered why she didn’t just buy the painting… Interesting.
Being a professional artist can be a discouraging road to take when you are attempting to make a career of it. In fact trying to make a career of anything creative is usually met with a struggle between having what is considered a “Real Job” or being able to live the rest of your life on Ramen soup.
That’s how I used to feel. The truth is that although the concept of a starving artist is popular and somewhat romantic, having that perspective won’t do anything to pay bills. Some people may feel that they need to have hardship in order to be creative… This won’t do anything for your bills either.
The truth is that my discouragement came from viewing myself as some kind of socially awkward creative genius who was misunderstood by society. Although this made sense of why I wasn’t openly sharing my art with the world, it was a lie to excuse myself from doing more as far as creating a career as an artist. The interesting thing is that the more I talked about how hard it was, the more people I found to agree with me on how impossible it was to do what you love.
Honestly, I had to get a few things straight in my mind before I was able to fully apply myself in making a living as an artist.
I needed to view myself as a business person and not a socially awkward misunderstood artist who was being kept down by the system. The only system that could keep me down is my own lack of willingness to expand my business and open myself and my art up for criticism.
Remember, starting a business of any type can be difficult at times, especially during the first year. Most businesses don’t start to turn a profit until the third year. As an artist you are your business, you are the brand so your ability to interact and mingle with all kinds of people is paramount. This doesn’t mean you have to be a social butterfly, just be yourself.
On a side note, my advice on “criticism” of any type is to remember that everyone has different taste and different expectations of what art is. That’s the beauty of art, it is unique to the perspective of the artist and some people will love it and some people will hate it. The trick is to not care either way and appreciate and love whatever it is that you create. I’ve made it a point to say “thank you” to everyone that comments on my art because they are going out of their way to share their opinion, even if it’s negative.
Although running your own business can be difficult, the payoff is immense. First off you make your own hours, you are your own boss, and you get to do something you love all day, every day. You also will share a part of yourself with the world and grow immensely from that experience in talent and confidence.
For a lot of artists, having galleries display and sell their art is a dream come true. Although this is a step forward, it takes time to build a reputation that will allow your art to sell for the kind of money that will allow you to live comfortably. The time it takes to build this reputation is up to you and consists of marketing yourself and your art.
The first and most important marketing strategy is word of mouth. Find events and festivals that you can go to or display your art, the most important element is not selling your art but talking about it and yourself with everyone you meet. Talk about it.
Find ways to market your business, then find some more ways to market your business, then find more. It’s fantastic that you are doing what you love and you are creating art, but remember that this is a business and not a hobby. Find ways to market your business through ads, marketing materials, or other creative ways to create a buzz about you and your work.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in running my art business is that as long as I don’t allow myself to get discouraged and continue striving to get my name out there it is impossible to fail unless I give up. So it’s quite simple for me… If I don’t give up, I could never fail.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone… Hope you had a spectacular day!