You know how you have that almost waking dream, and you want to remember it, and you write it down in a hurry so you don't forget, and then you lose that piece of paper, and then you can't remember that thing that was soooo important and incredibly insightful?
This is that sort of story; just a story, nothing particularly pedantic.
One of the benefits of being a recovering academic is that sometimes a recovering student contacts you, just to see how things are, and to talk about what they are doing, and how they are making that thing that they make, and to see if you're still making that thing you make, and how they are having troubles at home, and how's your love life, and my studio is too cold to work comfortably, and i've shown more this past year than the past five, and i don't have anything planed for that month, and are you going to be at that conference, and... and... and...
I recently got a call from a friend who long ago had been a student and we talked for about an hour, and we agreed and disagreed, and it was a good conversation, and i wanted to somehow hold on to the flavor of that conversation, and for an unknown reason it generated a ten item list of what it's like to be an artist, or why we're artists, and i wrote it out on the computer, and then i hit a key, and i don't even know which one, and the document disappeared, and it couldn't be recovered, and i couldn't remember my list.
Well, this is a reconstruction of the list of reasons to be an artist, as best i can, in letterman order.
Why to be an artist
10) you never retire, until you stop making art
9) it keeps you physically fit and mentally flexible
8) while it tends to be a solitary occupation, you are part of a larger professional society
7) no one else can make you an artist, and no one else can make you not an artist
6) it encourages continued learning and curiosity
5) it is rewarding, just not necessarily monetarily
4) you don't have to receive great recognition to be successful
3) it is part of a larger, human endeavor
2) it is never without risk
1) it is exciting
What the list is made of are things that the conversation prompted me to consider, and your list may be different, and i hope you have lots of conversations like that one, and , no matter what your perspective, it's a means to consider what it's like to be an artist, and why you might want to be an artist (or not), and it's about the fact of being an artist, and with no promise of the quality of the art, that's your own responsibility.