Artist for Hire

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Artist for Hire

From Gerald King

Published before 2005


It's good to hear there are still young students who want to become artists. I always said I was going to be an artist despite the system rather than because of it. It wasn't hard to figure out that the university or college art department was not the place to learn about art, but then what's a young person, of modest means to do if they had a craving to become an artist? In my day (50s) a college degree gave one a certain prestige and offered the opportunity to teach art in public schools. A certificate from a good art school (expensive) might get you a job in commercial art. The 9-5 aspect of the advertising world had less appeal to me than the summer-off and frequent holiday world of public teaching. I really wanted to paint when I grew up, but I knew (or sensed) I had to make a decent living. The thought of finishing up college and going out and hanging up a shingle-"Artist For Hire" was but fantasy. I did become a freelance commercial artist prior to entering the teaching world. I would have been successful but, I knew it was too time consuming for a person with a desire to become a fine artist.

As far as rebelling against the college art department, I was too occupied with math, science, literature and history to even think about it. Oh I did see the inanity of the contemporary art scene and the incompetence of my teachers, and the other art students felt the same way. The problem was very few students seemed to have the same passion for painting that I had, and none of us ever figured out that what was lacking in our art training was not just inept teachers, but discipline. What was lacking was a program to develop an artist's eye. What was lacking was a program to develop drawing skills. Without this, few students would ever know what it is to be an artist. Passions die quickly when not fueled by a sense of accomplishment. Without the tools to improve, the art student, who often becomes and art teacher, becomes a faddist, accepting all the latest hokum peddled by the entrenched art establishment.

I am sure that those of you who really want to become artists will find a way. The world will not likely change and become more hospitable to those who become artists with traditional drawing skills. In the 19th century drawing and painting skills were marketable and so schools were set up to teach drawing. Today, there is very little one can do with this type of training. The college art instructors know this and frequently want to eliminate drawing as a requirement for a degree. Many students may want it, and even know that this is the only way to fulfill their artistic desires, but the system is more interested in placating the students desire to achieve something feeling like art with as little effort as possible. They want their money more than to teach them art.

I hope this is not read as a doom and gloom scenario. Art has not been as vital and exciting since the turn of the last century (19th-20th). I don't expect much change in the entrenched art world of Museums, Galleries, Art Schools and Art Histories, but there is a growing number of unsatisfied art talents who will be competing with the political correct hokum of those who can't draw or paint. Keep up the good work. Being a good artist is worth it.

Gerald King