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The Starving Artist

September 12, 2015 Mark Ashburne

I’ve always been an art head. I can remember trying to duplicate my mother’s doodles, my father’s penmanship, and my older sister's Chicago Bulls sketches. Even redrawing classic family photos became a regular hobby. To keep me busy, my mother would give me sketchpads, coloring/connect-the-dot books, and anything that stimulated my creativity. Shapes, lines, angles, colors, and the formation of objects have always captured my interest. I knew from an early age, that art was my calling.

Somewhere between middle school and high school, I started analyzing the world of art. From a realistic standpoint, I realized what it meant to be an artist and concluded there was no money to be made, nor would I ever be rich off my art.

Have you ever walked into an art gallery, walls full of paintings, designs, and sculptures? You admire all of the amazing works, knowing for a fact that someone has spent a crazy amount of time and effort into creating them. You would love to take home a piece of art, and yet… you leave with nothing. Why is that? Is it too expensive? Do people just enjoy the act of viewing/admiring art with no intentions of buying? Do they not appreciate the thought, time, and effort placed into this creation? And of course, you can’t help but notice the owner; sitting behind the register in a bored demeanor. They seem content, but inside they are just hanging on, just barely making it, and praying for just one purchase to ensure the water bill is paid this month. Honorable, but not something I wanted for myself. Growing up, the idea of owning an art shop seemed perfect for me. However, the thought of living the life of a “Starving Artist,” was a risk I was not willing to take.

After graduating high school and having completed a four-year program with an art emphasis, I decided to pursue a degree in a field that was close to the art world while offering the stability I desired; Graphic Design. I figured I could still use my creative talents and still land a steady corporate job with benefits, and make a decent living. Four years later, I did just that. Within 8 months of graduating college, I was blessed with an opportunity to work for a DoD contractor and landed a position as a Graphic Designer. God is Good. Everything is great. I love my job. I even find time to do freelance work when available. But something is missing.

My “job” doesn’t allow me that freedom to do the projects I really want to do. I am missing out on the natural process of creating by inspiration, experimenting with new styles, and exploring new ideas. There lacks that part of me I discovered as a child and young adult, where I create by any and all things stimulating. I say all of that to say this. I get it now! It is not about making tons of money. It is not about how many people will actually buy my art. It is about doing what I love, and having the satisfaction of being content…with just that.

Unfortunately, as life would have it (bills, loans, first child due any day now) I’m not in a position to quit my day job, or run off to Costa Rica and open an art gallery…just yet. But, you never know what the future holds though. I will say this; I will never look at another art shop/gallery the same again. Only now do I have a new respect, understanding, and appreciation for the brave who step out to live a life as “The Starving Artist.”



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