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Required Reading

This week, LA’s new Academy Museum, the intersections of anti-Blackness and anti-fatness, a largely unknown 19th century Black theater in NYC, sign language interpreters, and more.


Lauren Purje

Lauren Purje (b. 1987) grew up in Dublin, Ohio and graduated from Ohio University in 2009 with a BFA in Painting. She moved to Brooklyn, NY in 2011 where she currently lives and works. This series of comic...

11 replies on “Some Artist Dos and Don’ts”

  1. Thanks for posting this, I do believe in what I paint and I keep it separate from money, even though some are sold that’s afterwards. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of paintings! I think there’s a lot of soulful art out there I’m just not sure it’s hard to see with so many galleries wanting to profit so they show only what they think will sell 🙁

  2. Do it for the assignment because grades actually do matter in college if you’re trying to get a masters degree or teach. They matter if you have a scholarship or even a loan. They matter and if they don’t then save your money by not bothering with college. Those assignments are to help you learn. If you don’t need them, save your money and get out into the art world and start producing YOUR work.

    Do it for the money! We all have bills to pay and for a lot of artists, having the supplies they need requires having money to some extent to pay for them! You don’t have to make everything about your clients and maybe you take a separate job entirely to fund your work. Often those other jobs can provide a very unique, valuable insight to other aspects of the world that can elevate your own work! But if you take commissions, you can SET your boundaries. You know your style, do your work WITH the client, not against them!

    And hell, do it because it’ll look good on your resume, especially as a starting artist. Is there a show space opening up? Maybe it’s not well known but WHO CARES, get a spot SHOW YOUR WORK. You don’t have to have a museum show but you need to get a foot in the door and HAVING A GOOD RESUME WILL DO THAT.

    AND DO IT BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT. Yeah, that is the most important part but you CAN do all those other things too and it’s really really really not that big of a deal.

    1. You can do it for those reasons, but it shouldn’t be the driving force behind why you’re doing it. I think that’s what she was trying to say.

      1. I want to read it like that, but there’s been a lot of this stuff going around lately and it’s all very… frustrating. And I think, most of all, it’s infecting the community as well to the point where professors are telling their students that if they get an outside job then they’re not “Real Artists” and if they take commissions for money that’s not quite what they want to do then they’re selling out. It’s really problematic and this isn’t the first comic that’s popped up in the past few months indicating that responsibilities take a back seat to doing what you want.

        I think if it has to be the driving force, then that’s entirely okay. People burn out sometimes. I’ve seen artists just… whither away trying to produce so much work that they don’t stop to do things that will often help them – like taking a class or taking on a weird commission. Those things, even irritating, can be revitalizing and offer a new perspective from which we can examine our own work. Lauren said something on her facebook which I really liked.

        “Every artist has times of gathering and times of creation. The really great and fortunate artists have several times of gathering and creating, alternating times of creating where it all comes together and you have a body of work to do. But every single artist starts out with an extended time of concentrated gathering.”

        And I’ll be 100% honest, the artists that I’ve seen really genuinely follow this principle from day one are as, p5ives (below) put it “trust fund” kids. Some people manage to work themselves up to that point which is fantastic, but the fact that it’s becoming such common advice and it’s causing a lot of distress on blooming artists who really could use encouragement rather than advice that could potentially make them lose their scholarships, jobs, and future employment opportunities is just… it’s mind-blowing to me. Yes, not every artist will need school or need a resume or need to take commissions to make our bills but I think the phrasing or the approach to disseminating this type of information needs to change into something that focuses on the positives (second half of the comic) and not on the negatives!

        1. I don’t want to interrupt the conversation, but credit is necessary- that was a commencement speech made by Walton Ford that I quoted on Facebook, and it was
          quite brilliant.

          I can’t take credit for that. Carry on.

          1. Thanks, Lauren! The video is great and I love that quote!

            edit: Lauren, do you mind me asking what your stance is on this conversation? Am I misreading it? It’s been a big topic of discussion in my area (Kent/Cleveland) and I feel that might be partially because it’s sometimes really difficult to get a foot in the door here compared to some of the ease with which my friends in larger cities are finding success.

    2. Speaking the TRUTH!
      I paint dogs for a living – I love painting dogs – I make money doing it – I would much rather do this than work at ANY regular job I can think of. I take offense to the artist painting the dog as the “doing it for the money”. Really? Is this the visual of selling out? Jeez!

    3. YES!! It’s all well and good to create lots of works of art because you WANTED to and you LOVE it…. but when you are trying to make a living as an artist you have to take commissions. They are your bread and butter (unless you are doing it because you have a trust fund – see comment below by p5ives – lol). You have to pay bills, you have to eat, you have to buy supplies and pay entry fees. I would much rather take commissions than sit in a cubicle in a Fortune 500 company graphics department (which I did for 17 years). I’m out chasing commissioned work. I WANT IT! And I’m chasing commissions that I want to see in my portfolio because it will give me the body of work that I need to get MORE and LARGER commissions! I still create things that I want to… just because I want to. And I’m happy because I am creating art for a living. That’s why I do it. 🙂

  3. Even if you need the money, do it ASIF it doesn’t matter, and be as willing to destroy it as sell it.
    THAT is freedom.
    Just don’t (as Picasso reportedly did) entertain the Fascists after you’ve charged them admission to watch you; that’s obscene.

  4. Not too far off but making money is good too. Do things you love that also make money and the problem is solved

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