If you've attended any of Lauren Panepinto's and Marc Scheff's bootcamps at conventions, you know just how invaluable the information is that they provide to both novice and seasoned artists. If you've been paying attention, you'll also know that they're the braintrust behind the über helpful "Dear AD" forum. And if you read Lauren's post last Thursday on Muddy Colors, you undoubtedly know that she and Marc have launched an on-line incarnation of the bootcamps with a mentoring aspect offered as an option. (So hit the link already.)
They did a nice lead-in/warm-up to what was coming with some videos (shown here, obviously), so it would seem like it's already all been said, right? They're great, what they're doing is great, sign up, yippee.
Except...maybe I'll add this.
In Anthony Moorman's documentary Making It there's a clip featuring Jon Foster in which he says young artists are always asking him "when does it get easier?" Jon's response is, "Never. It never gets easier."
That's probably the hardest truth many artists—hopeful and established alike—must face in a constantly changing world: it never really does get easier. There are always struggles and challenges; popularity has a shelf-life and success depends on education, flexibility, and hard work.
No one hands you an art career: you have to make one and you have to hustle to maintain it. Constantly.
The stickler is: there is no fool-proof, dead-perfect methodology in pursuing your dream. Nobody really tells you what to do to establish yourself or how to do it—because, as I've repeatedly said, there are no absolutes. What works for one is a disaster for another. Personalities can be as important as skill sets. Certainly there are some teachers, some workshops, some schools that try to prepare students (and working pros, too) as best they can, but when all is said and done an art career takes many twisting paths and there aren't any accurate maps to follow. Regardless of conventions, regardless of gallery openings or workshops or any other type of social activity or gathering of creatives...art is a solitary profession. It's you and the blank paper or canvas or screen; your success or failure rests squarely on your own shoulders and that can be a heavy load to carry sometimes.
Marc and Lauren are trying to lighten that burden a little. They're providing some much needed guidance through the professional jungle, they're demystifying the mysterious. Yes, there is a modest price tag that comes with their program—as there should be. Information, supported by knowledge and experience, has value. And, let's face it, other than the air we breathe, everything costs something. Everything.
Lauren and Marc have generously given their time, their energy, and their expertise to the community for several years now. They have been supporting us. For free. Now we all have the opportunity to show them, not only our appreciation, but our support in turn.
Giving back is one of the most important aspects of community.
Yes, being an artist is a solitary profession. But one of the most important lessons Marc and Lauren are teaching now is that it does not have to be a lonely one.