Monday, January 24, 2011

Open Letter to the Young Artists of Oklahoma

Guest Author: romy owens

Dear Oklahoma artist under age 30 (specifically those of you who are currently college students),

With the deadline for OVAC’s Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still OKC drawing near, February 7 with online digital submissions as the method of entry, I desperately want to encourage you to submit work for this exhibit featuring the best young emerging artists in Oklahoma.

I recently mentioned this deadline to an art major from a local university, as I was suggesting that she enter. Her response was threefold: money is tight, the process seems difficult and she is too busy.
romy owens discusses artists' careers with
David Holland at an ASK workshop.

Excuse me? Even thinking about this conversation again makes my stomach curl.

Please allow me to share with you what I shared with her, and please know that I don’t care if you find this message patronizing. Truly, I have your best interest at heart.

Showing up is the most important thing.

So, for all you young artists out there who think it is too expensive or too difficult, or you’re too busy to enter the hands down best Oklahoma exhibit that is SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to give you practical art experience, if this is really really really how you feel about it, if you think these statements about time, money and ease apply to you and your life and you can’t manage to submit artwork for one or more of the above listed reasons, either your priorities need to be shifted or, if your priorities can't be shifted, you need to change your major. Immediately.

Art is hard. Making art isn’t the hard part, but the profession of it is. Unless you happen to be independently wealthy, money is always tight. Despite your amazing talent, rejection is tough and 100% inevitable. And there is NEVER ENOUGH TIME. It’s not a career for the weak-of-heart or for those who can’t be motivated to take advantage of opportunities that are readily provided. 

How do I know? I’m a full time artist. It's a tough career choice. I'm not being bragadocious like I'm some kind of successful role model. I'm being candid because put down the Wii remote, or the beer, or the TV remote, or the phone and get off your ass and enter your art in exhibits already!

And right now, while you are in college, this is when it is the easiest. It will never be easier than it is right now. Never. It only gets harder. Well, until you are ├╝ber successful and sought after the Whitney for their Biennial, but even that won’t be easy. I vaguely remember some kind of bleak statistic about 5% of art students actually having a career in art after graduation. So even if you have 18 credit hours this semester and a full time job at Taco Bueno and a newborn baby, a career in art will never be easier than it is right now while you are in school.

So, please enter Momentum. I sincerely hope you will. I know there are many many people who attend Momentum looking forward to seeing the emerging talent. It’s exciting. And we all want to see your fantastic art.

But if you can’t be bothered, go visit your advisor tomorrow, and see about pursuing a career in a field that is always hiring and requires less personal initiative.

Happy arting.

romy owens spends most of her time taking photos and sewing them together. She is a past Momentum Emerging Curator and committee member. You can read more about her in this profile or her website or see her interviewed in this video.


May said...

Yes, yes, yes to everything Romy said! I can't even begin to tell you how much entering Momentum has helped me in my artistic career. A great opportunity to exhibit your work, see the work of others and meet your peers!

Denny Schmickle said...


Bryan Crump said...

We can all make excuses but as an artist, I think sometimes you have to be willing to step beyond them. Get past fear as well. Every show has different perspectives judging and viewing and there is so much support and constructive feedback that can be invaluable and priceless for new artists.

I recently entered a show that was nationwide and I almost did not. After I entered, I even forgot about my suggestion and went about taking care of my priorities. I can say from recent personal experience that taking the step is worth it. I won second place in the portrait competition. Out of 2000 submissions.

So, I urge all of the artists out there that may not be giving enough faith to their work or that listen to fear and excuses, please take a chance to submit your work to shows. Do not get in the mindset of, I will do it next year or next time.

In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday and what will you have done? We have to make the best of life and try to grow every moment we can.

Even though I am too old to submit my work to momentum, I have seen it do wonders for the younger artists. Don't wait until it is too late. Now is the time to take action.

Julia Kirt said...

Right on Bryan!