Recently I have been looking at broadening my art technique repertoire to improve my greeting cards. I read books and magazines, try to keep up with blog posts and Twitter feeds and use something new each project. It does the trick I suppose, but I also feel like there is an element missing to my endeavour to improve and expand.
That missing element is other like-minded artists.
I am really just starting out in a field that feels both full of people and like a small community at the same time. I have yet to find anyone near me who also makes cards. They are out there, I just have not made contact. Rarely do I notice business cards as I pass a table of greeting cards at a craft fair. And even if I do, the anxious person in me wonders if they want to talk to me on a peer level when they could be making a sale with the person behind me. The artist person in me knows that is silly.
Art workshops and retreats have been looking very tempting lately. I am lucky to live in an area with a strong art community and there are many things catering to them that I have access to. The Internet and the back pages of all those magazines I read are full of events I can take part in and form connections with others. At a retreat we are forced in to contact with each other and there is little chance of ruining a sale by trying to talk on a peer level.
I have always enjoyed taking part in art and craft activities but have never felt I was strong enough to pursue them whole-heartedly. Art always took a back seat to more practical endeavours, and this meant that for a long time the only art work I ever did was in school. Perhaps a group of other artists would reassure me that self-doubt is ok and that I am ever progressing.
A writer friend of mine frequently posts about the wonderful times she has on writers’ retreats. I admire all the fun she has and all the friends she makes who she can turn to in times of need. When you feel like you’re sinking, no one understands like the people in the same boat as you. I feel like that would be beyond helpful and a retreat would help me find people in my boat.
When I read her posts though, something always pokes at me. It is a feeling of shame that I have never been on any sort of retreat, and I felt like less of an artist for that. I feel like doing retreats legitimizes my efforts. All the other artists are doing it, so I must have to as well.
Perhaps at this point my group of other like-minded artists would tell me not to worry, and to instead spend the hundreds of dollars the retreat would have cost on new supplies and sushi. Those things do make me happy, and as long as I am creating, I am indeed an artist.
I think I will still go on one though. One day.
PS: Wanna be in my boat?