A life spent making mistakes is more worthwhile than a life spent doing nothing at all. This mantra is something many artists share as they would rather spend a lifetime struggling to produce their art as opposed to not creating anything at all.
Some creators are hesitant to do what they really want when faced with threatening terminology like starving artist. Everyone in whatever profession they are pursuing, of course, wants to be successful and being unsuccessful scares people.
All artists struggle, but it’s all on how they build their platform. Many are fairly successful and hungry for work. If it becomes difficult or too competitive, artists will either fight for survival and own what they have, or move on to bigger and better things while utilizing current skills.
If an artist wants to become known and get out there, they need to go talk to other artists and show off their work. The saying dress to impress, with just a slight twist, applies to artists when it comes to their work. Not every artist is starving.
Chris Perez, a graduate from Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD) as well as a Bachelor in the Fine Arts, has created several works of art in Toronto and is one of the many artists who has taken part in the utility box decoration program across the city. Since 2013, Toronto has had 350 utility boxes painted by various artists.
Perez never originally saw himself as an artist. He initially wanted a career that deals with video games, but he changed his career path and ended up becoming an artist.
“I originally wanted to become a concept artist for video games, but once I got into OCAD it kind of changed, because they gave me a new perspective of how to look at art, so I became more of an abstract expressionist,” he said.
“A lot of people don’t understand that but it’s a lot of personal hard work.”
He said that it is essentially every artist for themselves and the push has to come from within – no one can do it for them.
“The hardest thing as an artist is keeping your mental awareness, keeping in mind who you are currently because people tend to think of the past … If you don’t live in the moment, you won’t know what is going on and therefore, you won’t come up with ideas,” he said.
Perez explains that it is hard for artists to get out in the world as many of them are highly introverted. He said that the individual artist must step outside their personal bubbles and share their work with the world to get noticed.
“Pushing your professionalism, you shouldn’t think of yourself as a starving artist or that everyone should come to you. You should be going out there and presenting your stuff and it is hard, you have to communicate those ideas like any other relationship,” he said.
Perez works in the street art scene working with murals and paintings and has what is called an expressional style.
Toronto is full of art, whether it be murals, graffiti, art galleries, or painted electrical boxes. It is everywhere in Toronto. The city’s art brings in a huge audience and varies from formal showings at the Ontario Gallery of Art to the many fun, whimsical, or thought-provoking graffiti and murals on the city’s walls.
On a different spectrum, Julia Chmilnitzky, also known as Julie Chalmers, is more of a gallery and home artist. Chalmers often paints at home and enters her paintings into competitions and galleries to showcase her work and potentially sell it.
She points out that what many people don’t know is that the artist has to pay the gallery to have their work hung.
“This is typical. You go into shows and it costs the artists money to hang their paintings. When a person says, ‘Wow it’s in a gallery …’ Ya because the artist had the money to hang it up,’” Chalmers said.
She said that she doesn’t like to paint the same styles and same works of art because she finds it boring. She feels she would go crazy doing repetitive work.
But Chalmers said she doesn’t like the term starving artist as it gives off a bad impression to successful people.
“Saying you’re a starving artist is actually a negative term to put out there. Why would you want to tell someone that you aren’t successful? A loser? People don’t want to deal with losers, they want to deal with people who are successful.”
Chalmers teaches art and is part of several art themed clubs in which she continues to learn more techniques. Never one for repeating anything even as a teacher, she would change her course material every year instead of reusing old content. She also puts her artistic talent in decorating for weddings.
While many artists start with formal training, Christiano De Araujo, an artist originally from Brazil, has no education in the field. De Araujo has worked hard to follow his dream and now works full time specializing in creating murals.
“I knew from the moment I picked up a crayon and started to draw, when I was three, that being an artist was something I wanted to become,” De Araujo said.
He has built a career and taught himself how to do the work he does today while he observed and studied others’ skills and techniques.
While he agrees that most artists are introverts, he is an extrovert. De Araujo loves to talk to people and put himself and his work out there for the world to see.
“I went outside of the city and someone recognized me. I didn’t know who they were, but they knew me for my work and I felt almost famous, it was an amazing feeling that my name is getting around,” De Araujo said.
De Araujo feels he is well known around the city and is proud of how hard he has worked to achieve his goals of becoming what he always aspired to be. An artist.