My intent of this post about milestones is not to teach you about goal setting or reaching your goals. I want to focus on the reality of our situation, especially as artists. While I have set goals almost everyday to help me keep moving forward, what makes an artist's journey so interesting and spontaneous are the opportunities they say yes to.
As an young artist we layout the path as the next person. Today I am showing in the local coffee shop but in two years I will be in MoMa and Art Basel. The ignorance this young artist has is both their strength and weakness. They don't allow it to stop them from entering shows way above their caliber and experience levels; It is the constant rejection letters that push them to stop entering these shows until their confidence and skills are built back up. The other half of the equation is that they don't know what the stepping stones between the coffee shop and MoMa.
The truth is that as an up and coming artist, you will be offered many opportunities. It is actually amazing how many opportunities there are for artists. Most just don't put in the effort to seek them out for ourselves. For example, this year for 2017, I have shown my work in 8 different locations, the same one twice, and I only sought out 2 of these venues. The others contacted me. On top of that, there are probably twice as many shows that I said no to.
It is that string of yeses and nos that build what you look back on as your art career. Personally, things like teaching and pet portraits were not something I saw in my trajectory as a young artist, but I have been teaching simple painting classes for 3 years and I enjoy it. This month was my first time invited to Texas State University to speak to the class of a past professor. The same day, I delivered an Art & Business workshop at the G. W. Carver Museum in Austin, Texas, and I loved both experiences. I did foresee myself sharing my knowledge and experience of my journey but not this soon or with so much conviction.
There are months that you take whatever you can because rent is due. Little do you know, your landscape painting you just made in hopes to sell it by the last week of the month may alter your career forever. It is just by living in your craft, moment to moment, that you discover more about your self and your skill set that the world desires.
I hope that you leave this more open to what is to come. Many make significant life changes in their 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, and even their 70's. Don't ever think your stuck or that their is no future for you. We are part of a much larger ecosystem that knows where we best fit. We must be willing to accept the guidance and pathways others open up for us. Best to all going forward and remember, today you are a chef, tomorrow you are an aircraft engineer. The miles of life come anyway so enjoy the milestones!