I have found my new recommended textbook for artists. Alyson Stanfield’s new book “I’d rather be in the studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self Promotion” articulates vital ways for artists to approach their career. Her combination of tough love (I respect your art, but expect you to be professional) tact with tangible suggestions make invaluable. It’s darn readable too. She models the behavior she hopes for artists by telling interesting stories, writing clearly and thinking of her audience. Recognizing that artists’ careers are all different, she focuses on getting past excuses that limit artists’ success.
Her book reminds me of a major shift in my thinking. After working at the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition a few years, I had decided that my only definition for who is An Artist was that they were willing to call themselves one. This was to avoid the ways artists would cut themselves down, such as “I don’t make enough art” or “I don’t sell/exhibit regularly.” At one of our Artist Survival Kit workshops focused on professional skills, Bob Dohrmann, a mixed media artist and professor at the University of Oklahoma, respectfully disagreed with my definition, arguing that to be called An Artist, that person needs to have purpose and commitment. This was a revelation to me. Of course, we have to expect artists to have an intention. Likewise, Alyson Stanfield argues that it is your responsibility as an artist to move past excuses to reach your self-defined goals. Amen.