How To Feel Miserable As An Artist

Edward Hopper-Click to Enlarge

Edward Hopper, Automat, 1927. Oil on canvas, 28 in × 36, Des Moines Art Center.

 
This week a reader sent me a copy of “How to Feel Miserable As An Artist.” This marvelous list was created by illustrator Keri Smith and is part of The Artist’s Survival Kit, which Keri wrote and designed.

I like Keri’s list because it emphasizes the ways in which we tend to stay in our safe zones as artists. As I’ve discussed previously, pushing ourselves takes courage and risk, which is inevitably uncomfortable.

Sometimes we need a reminder that it’s okay to fail. It’s alright to disappoint people if it means we are working deeply and stretching the boundaries of our comfort zone.

Regardless of your artistic discipline, I suspect you’ll find a few things on this list that resonate…

How to Feel Miserable as an Artist-Keri Smith

 

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About the Author:

I’ve spent almost 20 years helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. (One friend likes to call me “the arts enabler.”) From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I've also done time at an arts magazine, a library, an art museum, and a raptor rehabilitation center. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, curating, and creative projects full-time. In 2015 I was named a “Top 100 Artist, Innovator, Creative” by Origin magazine. I've appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, and in 2017 I was the recipient of the Wampler Art Professorship at James Madison University. I am the founder of the Gwarlingo Salon series, which connects artists like DJ Spooky with rural audiences in the Monadnock region. In 2017 my collaborator Corwin Levi and I will publish our first book, Mirror Mirrored, which combines Grimms’ fairy tales with vintage illustration remixes and the work of contemporary artists like Kiki Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amy Cutler. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but have called New Hampshire home since 1999. My studio is located in the historic, mill village of Harrisville. I miss fried okra, the early southern spring, and restaurants that stay open past 9:00 p.m., but rural life agrees with me. In New Hampshire I can see the stars, go kayaking or snowshoeing, watch bald eagles fish in the lake, and focus on my creative work in silence. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams; deer, wild turkeys, and frost heaves are the primary road hazards here. Although I live in the country, I’m fortunate enough to be part of a vibrant arts community that extends beyond this small New England village. The quiet days are punctuated by regular travel and frequent visits to museums, theaters, readings, arts events, lectures, and open studios around the country. (You can read my full CV here.) Thanks for visiting Gwarlingo. I hope you'll be in touch.

2 Comments

  1. Jeffrey Gross February 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Wonderful list. It also reminds me of an old favorite book, now sadly out of print, the very funny “How To Make Yourself Miserable,” by Dan Greenburg.

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