In the last ten years I have interviewed over 250 artists for my art podcast John Dalton – gently does it . . .
One of the questions I ask every artist is, “Do you have a big art dream you would like to achieve before you die?”
Sometimes the response is grandiose, “I want to have my art on the side of a spaceship that goes to Mars.”
More often it is, “I would like to have a museum exhibition.”
But by far the most common response is, “If I can continue doing what I am already doing for the rest of my life that would be the dream for me.”
Enough is Plenty
Artists are people who spend their days doing what they love and because of this they never retire. They keep working until they die.
Work is not, “work,” for them, it is challenging and frustrating and difficult, but it is not, “work.”
They also don’t take holidays. They may travel, and from the outside, it might look like they are on holiday, but they never stop being artists. The sketchbook is never far away. Whether the sketchbook is physical, digital, or mental doesn’t matter. They never turn off.
Artists are also not under the spell of bigger being better.
They don’t aspire to have a second studio next year and four studios the year after that. They don’t want to have employees producing their art so they never have to go to the studio. They are not interested in external growth to the point where they don’t have to go to, “work.”
Instead, artists are interested in inner growth. They want to grow as artists.
Another common story among artists is that when they were considering a career as an artist, their parents were, by and large, concerned and unsupportive.
“You need to make money. You need to pay your bills. The life of an artist is hard,” they were told.
And that is true, the life of an artist is hard when it comes to paying bills and making money,
just like it is for everyone else,
but the practice of being an artist is not hard in comparison,
because as I said, artists are happy to create art all day long, every day, for the rest of their lives.
I suspect, given the chance, everyone would be the same. If everyone could work at what they loved they would be just like artists, never taking holidays, and never retiring.
Artists highlight the lie that you have to sell the time of your life just so you can eat.
They pose uncomfortable questions like, “What would I love to do all day whether I got paid for it or not?
What is stopping me from doing that?”