A multidisciplinary artist came to college and gave us a talk. His name was Ryan Gander. It wasn’t very interesting. Inspiring? Nope. Rather, it was depressing. That guy slowly meandered his way through an unprepared speech, showcasing us his projects, and the ones that failed, too. He was talking about art and what it means for one to be an artist, philosophising, trying to give unique answers to broad questions. He seemed tired and indifferent on the stage, swiveling the wheels of his wheelchair, and once in a while breaking the pace by trying to figure out the time by bringing his right arm close to his face and staring at his digital Casio watch. That day I realised that I never want to merely be an artist.
I remembered one thing very clearly, as it had hurt my feelings as a person who wants to become a Graphic Designer and an Illustrator. Answering a question that I can’t remember, he said that (and I’m paraphrasing here) “a Graphic Designer is not an artist.” Gander then went on to justify his point of view, giving us a perspective into what it is to be an artist: “an artist always explores, tries to find new ways of using media, always experimenting with what he has; reinventing the wheel. Graphic Designers, illustrators, for example, are not true artists, because they stick to certain styles and proven methods and techniques that bring them success, whether it be financial or fame, or both — they do not evolve."
And I found this to be true. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I thought to myself, “Do I really want to sacrifice my future, my career as a designer, and instead focus on being constantly creative, trying to create something thought-provoking, something that has been done so many times before, with a thin chance of becoming successful in my niche?" — The answer is a sturdy NO. I want to be successful. If Ryan Gander is truly an artist (and he is), then he has given me all the right reasons for not becoming an artist. His stance, his almost cynical approach to the topic of art. He has received many awards in the field. However, everything about him screamed the word failure at my face. That’s the impression that I got.
Maybe, when I grow as a designer and give myself a strong foundation, a sturdy income, and a healthy family, I will think of becoming a true artist; retired, sitting alone in a large studio, at peace. That’s what I want.
$root - whoami arduous artist
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