The way home, 30cm sq, oil on board
Years ago I was job hunting. Taking that journey again where you sit in front of a lovely someone at an agency, folio spread out, CV prepared and discuss what you have to offer.
“You have to take some of this stuff out” she said (referring to my skill set).
“What do you mean” I replied.
“It makes you look too confusing on paper” she said. “Copywriting, design, illustration, art direction. You can’t do all that stuff.”
“But I do, and I have, and I want to. It makes me happy to be able to do all of that in one job – and – see my folio; I wrote, that, and I made that image, and I directed the photo shoot and wrote the words on this one. And they’ve been successful.”
“Well”, she said, “I can’t show this CV to a client and expect them to take you seriously. You’ll need to pick an area of expertise and forget about the rest of it. If you want to do it all you can’t expect someone to hire you on the basis of being able to do that. Nobody would pay you to do all that. It would just make them nervous.”
I struggled with this for years, needing to branch out within jobs to feel satisfied and feeling frustrated that there was no job that fitted me wholly. I’m tired of feeling that because my interests are broad I must be neither fish nor foul and pretend to be something else.
Which is why the art is so fascinating for me. There is no set guideline. “Art” is so broad it encompasses an extraordinary breadth of work, and yet, the same rule applies. You can’t do it all. To be an ‘attractive’ artist, your work must be recognisably yours. Well executed, and pure of vision.
And I’m finding myself to be bi-focal again.
The works that sold at my recent solo were of a particular kind. Painterly images, based on reality and easy to relate to. They require focus, a steady hand and consistent effort. Considering how easily they sold, and my liking of ‘signs and signals’, I should be continuing to work in this way and see where it takes me.
And yet abstraction, intuitive shape-making and pure colour calls very noisily.
Can I do them both? Probably not. And I find myself back at the same spot – looking at a number of different futures and wondering how to proceed. The core or the hand? The soul creeps out in both, which is how it should be, but which will bring me home?
I’m still not sure…