In the arts, at least in art school, there are formal mechanisms in place for talking about work in progress. Artists have critique, performing artists have rehearsal, and creative writers have the workshop. I like how writers use the word “workshop” as a verb, for example, “Let’s workshop that poem.”
After graduating, many artists lose that formalized place and community, so they stop making art. Some artists find local groups to work with. Others go back to school–they enter a graduate program just to have that community again. But many more just quit. And this is a tragedy. Because the world needs more artists and it needs more art.
My definition of an artist here is, “a person who consistently makes art.” That is to say, you don’t need to make a living as an artist to be an artist. In fact, most of my friends who are artists, musicians, composers, and actors have full-time jobs that bring in their main source of income. Yet they make art–mostly every day, at least every week.
As for the artists who quit? I wonder if they would keep at it if they could maintain the practice of workshopping with a small group of people who consistently show up ready to share their work and give them feedback on theirs.
TAKE IT FURTHER
- Success in the Arts in the 21st Century (LA Review of Books, 2016)
- Artists and Art Workers in the US – survey (NEA Research Notes, 2011)
- What is a work of art in the age of $120,000 art degrees? (BFAMFAPhD)
- How to Keep Making Art After Grad School (HuffPost, 2012)
- Why Writers Love to Hate the MFA (NYTs, 2015)
- What Can You Do With a Creative Writing Degree (HuffPost, 2018)