A Life in Paint
It seems that if you can lump a group of people together for some reason, race, colour, gender, profession, whatever, there will, over time, develop a set of assumptions related to that group. Artists are no exception. Stereotypes abound about us creative types, notions that have been repeatedly reinforced over centuries. There are so many that I could probably spend a week writing this post, but then no one would read it. So, I've picked 5 of the ones that are, at least to me, the most outrageous.
1. Artists ALWAYS Carry a Sketchbook EVERYWHERE: You've seen this in movies, the skinny artist guy, proudly carrying his sketchbook everywhere he goes, out for coffee, to pick up his dry cleaning, wherever he is, he's got it, just in case inspiration strikes him while he's getting his flu shot or some other mundane crap. Ummmmm, no. Well, generally no, but in the interest of full disclosure, I did once meet a guy at an artist seminar in Fredericton a few years ago that was not only carrying a sketchbook, but also sported a pageboy type satchel over his shoulder, had a Salvador Dali moustache and wore a beret (in July, no less, July in Atlantic Canada). Him aside, no, this one's false, at least for me. Heck, I don't want to carry anything it if doesn't fit neatly in my pocket. If I could get away without the social stigma attached to such an unchivalrous act, I'd make my wife carry the groceries just to have my arms happily free.
2. Artists All Live in a Dream World: Apparently we creative types wander the planet with our heads in the clouds. We think not of practical matters such as bills, politics, or business. No, we float around with constant thoughts of colours, fluffy clouds and rainbows. Yeah, that's crap. Like anyone else, I'm sure we have our day dreamy moments, but fear not, we're down here, living in the real world with the rest of you.
3. Creative Types Tend to be Tortured/Mentally Unbalanced/Addicted: Okay, so Vincent cut off his ear and Hemmingway reportedly drank like a fish, but come on! We're not all nuts. Hell, I don't even drink. I used to have a beer or two every now and then, but the old tummy doesn't like it now. And I hate drugs! Nope, you'll always find me stone cold sober. And I'm neither tortured nor suffering from any mental problem which would require professional intervention. I'm surprisingly, and perhaps, disappointingly, normal.
4. Artists Are Always Broke and Those That Aren't Totally Sold Out: Anyone who has followed me for more than half a second knows my distaste for the starving artist myth. I don't know how that became such a romantic notion, but there is nothing romantic about poverty or starving. Don't believe me? Do your own research, go on out tonight in the cold and interview a few people on the street who are both poor and hungry. Ask them how "romantic" it feels to them. Artists are no more broke than any other group. Some may not be able to live solely off their work and may have to have another job, but they're getting by. No one does their best work when all they can think about is hopefully getting something to put in their stomach. And as for the selling out, what is that? The implication of the term is that somehow any artist who isn't starving must have compromised their integrity, artistic or otherwise, for the almighty dollar and therefore, their work is no longer true art. Jealous much? Professional artists create art as a profession, meaning that's what they do to make money. Selling out is just one of those empty phrases that means absolutely nothing.
5. Artists Are Irresistibly Sexy: You see this one in movies and romance novels time and time again, the woman seeks out a an artist to create a portrait she wants done. Or she happens to notice a man in the coffee shop, he's not classically handsome, but he's got his sketchbook and there's just something about him, she's drawn to him. In either scenario, this male artist type lives in a drafty, messy loft, supplies strewn all over and the female character finds herself compelled to follow him there. She can't help herself, there's just something so sensual, so sexy about him... Okay, yeah, that one's true. ;)