One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve heard is, “So, what do you do?” For a large number of people this can be very simple to answer: Artist, Photographer, Musician, Dancer, Astrophysicist, Clerk, Economist, Retiree, or Astronaut. However, for others (like me) this can be quite challenging. How do you describe what it is you do, when you do too much? And how much is, too much?
I have found many different hats to wear travelling down the road of life. I can honestly relate to the “notoriously overachieving” James Franco who just had the title “art collector” (he purchased a 13 year old fan’s artwork) added to his list of achievements on the Huffington Post: actor/painter/director/producer/screenwriter/author/pilot/performance artist/professor, etc. I myself can fit into a number of these categories, while adding photographer, illustrator, percussionist, incense-maker, and marketing director to name a few. Of course for Franco this type of overachieving is nothing short of magnificent thanks to his celebrity status. But what does this mean for the less visible artist/entrepreneur that is a jack-of-all-trades but master-of-none?
Can doing too much actually hurt us as artists? I’ve tossed this question around often and as recently as the other night in my self-publishing class, where I mentioned that I’m a marketing ‘nightmare’. I think this is where our multi-tasking, free-wheeling ways can be detrimental to certain artistic goals. I find myself to be my own “nemesis” when it comes to this. Who am I? Well, I’m a photographer, artist and author who writes screenplays, blogs and novels while designing websites and heading up the marketing efforts of the Sedona Arts Center and all their events while teaching classes, art experiences and painting Apples for the Art Barn while preparing for PhotoFest and community outreach programs and volunteering at children’s art classes and making incense and oil blends that travel across the country and into stores just like the one I used to own on the East Coast while experimenting with run-on sentences. Try marketing that!
As artists we have to have clear goals, but for some of us, it’s really hard to fit into a certain genre. And frankly, some of us simply do not want to fit in. I could never imagine forcing myself into one particular role. I love so many different artistic forms entirely too much to get ‘stuck’ in one. I also get bored too easily; so much that I can walk away from a painting or drawing for years before returning to complete it. The world, for me – is just too exciting and full of life to stick to just one artistic form. So I skip marketing myself altogether and live a life of “doing” rather than worrying about how I appear to the rest of the world. This methodology has worked for me so far, so I can safely say it could possibly work for you as well. So all in all I think it can’t hurt to be an overachiever.
What I’m saying to you is: Live life to the fullest. Take your art to the highest levels. Don’t try to fit circles into squares when there are so many octagons still out there waiting for you to explore. Excel in your field, master your art, but always explore different mediums. It will keep your mind, art and soul fresh and full of life. I’m not telling you to quit what your good at or abandon your style. I’m reminding you to experience life and all the amazing challenges, adventures and joys it has to offer. Your art is as infinite as the universe and always should be. There are no chains or definitions that hold you down. So don’t get stuck, break free and explore all forms of art. Trust me, it feels great.
Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.
About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.
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