You might think I am being amusing here but the answer to this witticism is of very real concern for me. Once upon a time I thought that if I was a really good artist and worked diligently day and night, I would be rewarded with fame or fortune or quite possibly, both. But I was wrong! So wrong.
Neither ‘talent’ nor ‘hard work’ in themselves produce the necessary kudos or shall I say, validation needed for becoming an artist. At least, one who considers oneself ‘viable’. I now think the main quality needed is simply the ability to NOT know when to say ‘Enough of this foolhardy life’ and then quit.
I have spared no faithfulness to the practice of art – apart from not sleeping with the right people. I have kept up with contemporary art practices – traveling to Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany, The International Melbourne Arts Festival, Sydney’s Primavera 2008, Canberra’s exhibition by Bill Viola and others. I have up-graded my academics – MFA from Monash University in 2002 and a creative PhD from Victoria University in 2007; articles to peer assessed journals, international speaking engagements and more. I work in the latest media – digital production and installation with maximum material application, having once been solely a watercolourist. Still, have I made it as an artist?
Having completed my PhD with flying colours, I decided to take my ten years of art production ‘out for a spin’ in 2006. I was so successful at applying for the best in prizes and awards and grants that I received a rejection letter at least once or twice a week, sometimes on the same day, until Christmas. Within a few months, I was completely disheartened – the equivalent of an artistic grease spot. Where was the reward for believing in all I did for art? It was only vapor.
I wanted to give up. I wished for any excuse to stop arting. I asked the heavens, ‘Why am I doing this?
And another day goes by…