Art is Serious by Zahraa Karim

Creativity: the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness. How much creativity do we see around us today, and do we realize what an artist of some sort made? Some will of course say yes, but many should take a good look around and notice. Vivienne Westwood, Picasso, Damien Hurst, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Wes Anderson, Henri Cartier-Bresson, I could go on.  Nevertheless the point being that almost everyone will be able to recognize, acknowledge and respect these very well known artists for their individual talents and work. It took time, and don’t you wonder how these artists emerged?


The creative industry is highly competitive and cutthroat, but when it comes to the studying of an art or creative related subject, students who have chosen that path tend to get shrugged off. Art isn’t always seen as a ‘real’ subject compared to academic routes. Why? Being an art student is equally as important as other subjects, and now more than ever their work is everywhere! So now in pursuit of a dream career following the lead of the infamous as mentioned above, the young artist begins a journey. The journey has many battles and not all are easy to win, but some are worth the struggle. They’ll potentially have small successes with big ones following on in the near future, but to get to any of those kinds of checkpoints it’s the failures and doubt that is overcome that builds the young artist to that point.


We naturally assume that if someone is studying art, they’ll have an easy ride through university and not need to put in half the effort of those studying what some call a ‘more serious’ subject. This is just not the case. True art has no exams, but the amount of time more academic students spend studying, is relative to the amount of time an art student spends on concepts, research and production. Art is serious. Art is everywhere around us and should not be looked down on, as the creative industry is bigger than ever. So now knowing this, can we imagine it to be an uphill battle for a young creative to stick to their passion, whilst still trying to be realistic about their future? Still can’t imagine? Okay, maybe look at it from this angle: Each young artist is fully aware of the stereotypical remarks that will come with selecting a creative prospect. There is already a sense of negativity about their future before they’ve even had a chance to prove their worth. The negativity and self-doubt can then potentially continue, as there is no guide on how to make it as an artist. There is no straight and narrow. You could go through university with the top grades, finish with a First, have a striking portfolio, even have had some good work experience under your belt too, but does that mean you’ll become the artist you want to be? No. Sometimes it’s whom you know, for some it’s down to being in the right place at the right time, and for others it might not even mean anything towards their career yet. If we compare it to what we would say is certainly a difficult degree such as medicine, what we’d find is that there is a set way to become a qualified doctor. Put simply, you’d need to earn a medical degree, complete a residency program, obtain licensure and then get certified to advance your career. Medicine is also a long journey, but the difference is that a job is easier in access in regards to the fact that their degree is their worth. For a young creative their degree may help, but it won’t always get them the job. Artists must fight for those jobs and experiences. Art is serious too.


So if the creative industry is so difficult to break into, again where do young emerging artists start? That’s easy. They start with baby steps; slowly but surely their work improves, it catches more attention and the hope being that someone out there likes what you’re doing. They treat the patience that they need as a virtue; persistence is key, if they get knocked down in any form they just have to get back up, there is no time to sit in self-pity. They come guns blazing with a fire in their belly; there has to be a sense or at least a willingness to fight for what they want, if it’s a dream job then the work ethic has to be 100%. They bring passion into every detail of their work; it’s their name on the line and how they are represented, and so the passion will come through in the finer details. However, this is still not enough for a young artist. They may have the drive, the dream, even the talent, but they need promotion and opportunities. Social media has taken a major role in the last few years in building and breaking many careers throughout the creative industry. Young people need chances for their work to be seen on these types of platforms as an opportunity to be discovered online too.


There are more and more young artists developing their skill sets, don’t forget about them. Like their posts, support their work, give constructive criticism if you’re not too crazy about it, do something. It’s not an easy path, nor will it change to be that, but sometimes the harder path is worth walking. Even if you’re worried of the stereotypes, or how you’ll earn a steady income in the future, at least try and have respect for those who do because some of those young emerging artists do turn out to be The Vivienne Westwood’s or Picasso’s that we know today. Art is serious.


Advice? Sell yourself. Sell your work and sell your personality. Artists have to be a people person in some form. I’m not saying a social butterfly, but have a sense of charm and charisma. Be as endearing as what you create.

text and photographs by Zahraa Karim @z_photographer01


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