A 2 Year Artistic Roller Coaster Ride

last_blast

In 2014, I had a fleeting thought for a project that seemed like complete pie in the sky. As an artist, ideas for projects float in and out of my brain.  Some ideas are stay for about 3 minutes, some linger and hang out for a week or so, and some permanently attach themselves, refusing to leave.

When you have those pie in the sky ideas, they’re fun to dream and fantasize about.  You think in your head “wow, that would be so awesome…” and “if only I could pull that off….” However, there’s the skeptical, practical side of my brain which reminds me of the brutal logistics of reality, and basically obliterates those pie in the sky dreams before they even get a chance to be even considered.

Well, this particular pie in the sky dream didn’t get obliterated, it survived-for a very, long time. And yes, it got me into a lot of artistic “trouble.”  I slowly started following a trail of tiny bread crumbs that started to appear in the forest.  Sometimes it was months of waiting between each bread crumb, and it was the greatest test of patience for someone who has very little patience to begin with.

Then, some wheels really started turning, and I realized that I was on a gigantic roller coaster ride that I wanted to stay on forever. Except that this roller coaster was in complete darkness, and it didn’t have all the tracks ahead finished yet. I was moving on the roller coaster, but frantically laying the tracks in front of me about 3 seconds before I went over them, all in the dark.

Sneak Peek

And then before I knew it, I realized that the roller coaster had grown so big that I couldn’t do it by myself anymore.  I needed a partner and a team:  a fantastic, superb group of art students, emerging artists, and numerous professionals who could help me build the tracks, shine some light on the roller coaster, and make pie in the sky real. This is the most extraordinary group of people I’ve ever worked with, and I cannot remotely come close to accurately expressing my tremendous gratitude towards their tenacity, perseverance, and faith in our project. Without my team, pie in the sky would still be an idea floating in my head, or it would be a mediocre effort that lasted for a few months and then drifted away.

This has been the most exhilarating, terrifying, stimulating, difficult, electrifying idea I have ever experienced in over 15 years as a professional artist and teacher. Every time I thought I had just finished climbing Mt. Everest, I was told “You have to climb Mt. Everest again.” I would finish my second climb, come back to the bottom and be told “Sorry, that wasn’t enough-you have to go again.”  Every time I thought I had reached a milestone, or pushed myself as far as I could, the challenges only grew increasingly larger and more difficult, and I had to rise to the task in a way that in a way that was unprecedented in my life time. On top of that, I had to keep this project top secret for TWO YEARS.  I’ve been jumping out of my skin, and can’t wait to release the hounds.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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ART DARES
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ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

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Ask the Art Prof Live # 8: Should I do the Starving Artist Phase in New York City?

01:48
NYC after art school

04:53
Instead of NYC, move to a smaller city after art school

06:33
Go to NYC later in your career

07:34
A miserable experience in NYC immediately after art school

10:08
Sit back, clear your head, and process your 4 years at art school

12:50
Consider graduate school in NYC

13:59
Artists are always re-evaluating and re-thinking


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Reddit AMA #2 (Ask Me Anything) with the Art Prof

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This week I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) in the subreddit /learnart. Below are some of the questions people asked, and you can read the entire thread with my (very long) responses here.


“What do you think is the most prevalent difference between self-taught artists and those who have gone to art school(s)? Are there any benefits of being self-taught, aside from the money issue?”

“How does an artist learn to see?”

“In the art world right now do you think that the business aspect of becomes more important due to the high competitiveness?”

“In your years teaching at RISD, what are characteristics that successful students have in common? Have you noticed similarities?”

“What is your opinion on digital art? I have noticed that digital art is sometimes disregarded as not quite being art since you have access to tools not available in traditional art.”

“Do you have any tips/websites/books/blogs on how a student can find their own voice, how to express it? And how to teach that to a student, or at least guide them in knowing how to express themselves verbally and through their work?”

“I spent most of my life drawing in pencil, and find that I have a very poor understanding of light and color. Could you recommend any exercises that I could complete in an hour every day that would best help with improving color and light comprehension?”

“I am an emerging artist. I have tried to contact commercial art galleries but there’s no interest. My press releases to art magazines and traditional media are ignored. How can I get more exposure to the right people, collectors looking for emerging artists who can judge by themselves the merit of a piece of art?”


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Reddit AMA #1 (Ask Me Anything) with the Art Prof

Clay Portrait Sculpture

Last night I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) in the subreddit /ArtCrit. Below are the questions people asked, and you can read the entire thread with my (very long) responses here.


“How did you sell your work when you were first starting out as an artist? I’d like to sell my work, but I don’t want to under price or overprice myself.”

“What does it take to get into RISD’s MFA program?”

“How important do you think painting classes and instructions are in regards with improving one’s skill? can one improve skill mainly through practice and self education? What would you suggest for a person who have not any formal visual art education but merely like sketching and painting?”

“What advice do you have for someone who wants to improve their art, that’s not ‘keep practicing?'”

“Are there any unusual art styles that you’ve come across in student artwork that stood out to you? What made them stand out?”

“As an art student currently studying painting, what is the most valuable piece of advice for a young artist looking to make a successful career from art?”

“What is your favorite and least favorite thing about being an art professor?”

“What would you say to those with the opinion that art cannot be taught?”

“Could you be happy teaching high school, middle school, or grade school art? Or, is there another way you would choose to make money if you weren’t a professor?”

“Did you ever doubt your decision to pursue art as a career? Or, did you ever have to decide between art and a career field that was a close second?”

“How do you make practice count?”

“How can we properly study from the old masters?”

“Is it more important to be extremely good at a certain aspect like landscapes, or focus on as many of them as possible? If so how?”

“Is the art world becoming highly competitive?”

“If we can’t get life drawing from a class/studio setting and live in a pretty barren wasteland/small town what would you suggest to practice?”

“Are there any living masters today?”

“In my country the art programs are not very good, so while I am studying, I also want to take matters into my own hands. Do you have any books or online classes you would recommend? Also, how do I know when I am ready to start showing my work?”


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Ask the Art Prof Live #2: Aches While Drawing, Professional Artwork vs. Student Artwork

 

00:00
Aches while drawing

08:33
The artist’s run

10:52
What distinguishes professional artwork from student artwork?

17:43
Archival art materials


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Ask the Art Prof Live is a weekly live video broadcast on my Facebook page where I provide professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015.  See the full archive of columns here. Ask me your questions by commenting on the live video post as the video streams, and I’ll answer right away. I’ll discuss being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more. Like my Facebook page and you’ll receive a notification when each live video begins.


Related Live Videos
#8: Should I do the Starving Artist Phase in New York City?
#7: How do I Improve My Art?  How do I Find My Artistic Style?
#6: Teaching High School Art, Teaching Color
#5:  Starting Art School, Avoiding Cliches
#4:  Oversaturation, Brainstorming, Beginning a Series
#3:  Personal Themes, Never Too Late to Start Drawing
#1:  Graduate MFA Programs

Ask the Art Prof Live #1: Graduate MFA Programs

 

0:00
“Every year only a small portion of students go to graduate school. Why do you think it’s like that?

00:52
“What do you think are the most important values you can learn from graduate school?”

04:14
“Do you think it’s better to go to graduate school right after a bachelor’s degree, or after working for a few years?”


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

“Ask for What You Want”

Self-initiative is everything when you’re a visual artist. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past decade of teaching and making art, it’s that opportunities in visual arts almost never fall into your lap.  Unless you are independently wealthy, extremely well connected, or insanely lucky, you have to take the responsibility to go out there and find and/or create opportunities for yourself.

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Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006, is famous for his “Last Lecture” which he gave back in 2008.  In the lecture, he talks about “really achieving your childhood dreams.”  One of my favorite pieces of advice that he gives is to “ask for what you want.” It sounds like a statement that should be obvious, but I was surprised that when I sat down to really think about it at the time, how infrequently I actually asked for what I wanted.

There are two actions to that piece of advice:  1) identifying what you want and then 2) asking for it. Depending on what you want to do, figuring out what it is you want can be totally obvious or completely mysterious. For me, knowing what I want hasn’t been challenging, it’s the asking part that can so difficult to do.

Recently, I’ve had to do a massive amount of asking, way more than usual. Every time I ask for something, whether it’s a grant proposal I’m putting together, an exhibition opportunity, or a job, I feel like I’m walking a plank on a pirate ship.  Most of the time, I start with an email inquiry, and I have to take a deep breath before I click “send.”It’s hard to ask for things. In most situations, you’re asking someone you barely know, or don’t know at all.

Asking can be exhausting, and you have to prepare yourself to be rejected over and over again, with the high likelihood that you won’t get a response. It can get to the point where you become grateful for any response, even if it’s a no. This process can be very frustrating; it can feel demeaning when you’re constantly begging on your hands and knees all the time for even the slightest bit of acknowledgement.

I don’t know why asking is so intimidating for me despite the fact that I have evidence that asking can be effective. I try to remind myself that asking is no skin off my back. After all, the worst case scenario is either being ignored or rejected, which is nothing new.

I try to remember that you only need one person to say “yes” for all of that asking to be worth it. Even though the asking can be painful, I know that it’s possible to get results this way. I’ve landed jobs and exhibitions because I asked, asked the next year, and then the next year, until that polite rejection became a “yes.”


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.