Do you know your place? So often being told to 'know your place' is a put down . A suggestion that you are getting uppity and need to back down. In fact as an artist there are three reasons why knowing your place can empower you.
1. We all need a ritual recharging place
There is a neighbourhood cafe near me called BocBoc. It's devoid of art, has a plain menu that never changes, looks out onto a car park and a road junction. Yet, whenever I go there, within minutes I am greeted by a flood of creative ideas. In fact I am writing this in BocBoc right now on my iPhone.
So what's special about it? Nothing. (Except maybe the lack of censorship when you ask for chocolate ice cream for breakfast). It's the ritual. I started to go there with art books, planners, my iPad. Started to use it as a place to think, to look at Pinterest, to read blogs. I like the same corner table, enjoy seeing the same staff and customers. Soon, my subconscious kicked in
It's BocBoc! It's inspiration time!
Now, sitting at that table is like plugging myself into a recharging station.
It's not the place. It's the ritual. I do wish my local cafe was in San Francisco or Vancouver. But it doesn't need to be. It's not where the place is, its the fact we have a place we go to often. It's the repeated intention to be open to inspiration and the trigger action of going to your place that matters.
2. Know where you belong.
One of the disadvantages of a creative brain is that we see possibility in everything. If you don't know your place in the art world it's easy to get pulled all over the show trying every technique and never making any your own. Progress comes in leaps and bounds once you find your place.
This is one reason I admire my art partner Leah Higgins. She knows her techniques - she focuses on dye and printing - particularly breakdown printing - and she knows what her work is about and how it links to her life. I on the other hand only occasionally dye. I have worked out that acrylic paint suits my working process, my personality and the style of my mark making much better. So that's what I do.
I've come to think of it as like choosing a home to live in. I like to walk residential areas cities when we travel looking at houses. Georgian terraces, jam factory conversions, cute news houses- I'd love to own them all. Sometimes I rent one for a holiday But I picked one. I made my studios there and decorated it to my style and now it's my place. Now and again, I visit a new art technique for fun. Occasionally I might find something so perfect I add it to my repertoire - like building an extension on your home. But I always come back to my place.
One thing I will be working on this year is finding my place not in terms of techniques but in terms of where my work belongs when it leaves my studio. In terms of how what I have to offer fits in with the art and blogging works as a whole. I imagine that's going to involve a fair few sessions at BocBoc!
3. Know where you are going
What is your end game? Why do you want be an artist? What is your definition of success? Where is the place you want to reach?
There is no right or wrong answer to those questions. It's like asking, "What does your dream forever home look like?" But it's a question that needs answering if we are to make art and run a studio business with purpose. I am forever facinated with Lisa Call who for years has been headed to a very clear place where she is able to live off her art work. (See her latest writing on that adventure here). I on the other hand have no desire to do that. I love my day job and I recognise I could not replicate its benefits ( both monetary and otherwise) from a full time art career. But I do take running a studio seriously.
Again, 2017 will see me working on the questions: what is my end game for my art career when I retire from law in maybe 20-22 years time? What can I start to do now, from my current place, to get me to my end game place?
What about you? Where are your places, both physical and metaphorical? Do you allow yourself enough time there? Do you need to think about moving or staying put this year?