A Fabulous Book by Andrew Simonet, Founder and Director at Artists U

Taking power as an artist means going from beggar to partner. Artists who are strong partners thrive. They find resources, connections, and audiences. They don’t wait for opportunities; they create opportunities.  Everyone we deal with is a partner (not a parent). Funders, presenters, museums, record labels, and critics are all partners. When we step up as responsive, responsible partners, we can go anywhere.

Simonet, extracted from his book, Making Your Life as an Artist - a guide to building a balanced, sustainable artistic life.

Every artist should read this. 

Really.  It's that important.

As Val wrote when I posted the link on Facebook, Good resource and point of view with concrete actions to take. They need to give this to students in school. 

Val Oliver, an Originator/Creator/Writer/Director/Producer.

Making art will never be an entirely reasonable, rational pursuit. Excess, immersion, wildness, and obsessiveness can all fuel our work. But that doesn’t have to be the way we deal with all aspects of our lives.

Protect the wildness of your art practice. Keep the radical parts radical by cutting out the chaos. 

Sustainable means your life can work over the long term. A lot of artists’ lives are built for 23-year-old single, frenetic, healthy, childless workaholics. That doesn’t last. Our lives change and our needs change.

Sustaining is radical.

(Starving is not.)

Balance ...

I am always searching for a kind of balance in life ...

I work hard. I work long hours.  There is no income.  However I have finally decided to commit to the life of an artist.  And I'm lucky, my Belgian bloke is pleased  that I am finally writing again.  It was the thing I loved first, the thing friends back in New Zealand most associated with me, it turns out.

So I write in the mornings these days and depending on whether I'm on the school pick-up run, which is lunch-times two days per week, my writing often runs on into the afternoon.  And the evening.

And I edit for friends and causes I believe in the way some people do crossword puzzles. That's my hobby.  I love making texts beautiful.

And I can be lured out of the house to shoot an event or a portrait for friends I admire or whose business impresses me. That was last night.  And I sparkle on the inside.  I love the energy that shoots through me when I'm working with my camera. And I always meet really superb people.  There was this wine-maker last night.  An extraordinary woman that I will interview on Saturday.

So I have all these things that I love doing but they rarely involve money.  And making them earn money while bowing to the gods of taxes, social security, and etc, can only be described as a Kafka story.

Do I kill all the art and get a real job? 

It feels so much like cutting off my nose to spite my face.

I can create beauty.  I'm pleased with the shape the book on Genova is taking.  My photographs seem to please people and even if they don't, I find them pleasing.  I printed 20 of my Genova photographs off as A4 colour photocopies. 

I was like a mother with her new baby.  Who knows if the baby is ugly, I was that mother who was besotted.  The images looked so powerful laid out in front of me.  I needed that.  I was bored with looking at them on the computer.

The scales that weigh the content or purpose of my life are sensitive things.  Sometimes I have them in balance - my work is good, I should continue with photography and writing, the housework, and this crazy extended family of mine.  Other times it's ... who do I think I am.  Some princess who can live so irresponsibly and lightly in the world!?  I must find a job!'

We live in a world where the arts are always first against the wall in budget cut and yet art is the thing that makes humans different to animals, isn't it?  Art is the place we all escape to ... into books, into music.  And yet the raised eyebrow, the idea that we are spoiled ones ... oh how that messes with my head.

I was out with a friend last night and I said, I should get a job.  She said, but you work.  I said but I make no money.  She said you work really hard.  We laughed.  I do enjoy Ruth's company.  She keeps me sane.

So here I am, living what feels a little like life in bubble.  If I float out here, kind of disconnected from the world, then I can write this book I've been carrying inside of me for a long time but ... like being on the edge of a cliff, I can't look down.   If I look down, I'll may fall into despair and despair means I struggle to write and create.  Bitterness is deadly.

Lately I've read through a million job decriptions, trying to work out who would hire me, woman of strange abilities.  And I can't get past what I might gently call the 'wankspeak' of job descriptions.  I think you're meant to apply anyway and then everyone laughs and says noooooo, you're absolutely what we need but we had to write that other stuff ...like,  fluent in 17 languages, with the ability to get our newsletter out into the world in 17 seconds flat.  But maybe it's better those jobs have seemed impossible.

This morning began with a bit of a crisis.  Oh, you guessed.  Maybe I've written it out of me and tomorrow I'll delete this and we'll pretend it never happened. 

But make no mistake, this needs to be read knowing I'm smiling.  I have fought off the despair.  I'm going to write now.