Now, certainly, I know how to take clay and form it into an object of art. I know how to manipulate form and light and color into a thing of beauty, but I think there is a greater skill set that I am learning in graduate school which includes skills like organizing a project, making professional connections and, perhaps most importantly, how to break the rules to create new ideas and opportunities.
Learning to be an artist begins with taking "basic skills" classes that teach you how to use and manipulate a material, how to use color and light in creations, how to apply the principles of design to what you create, etc. These skills are essential to making quality artwork, but they certainly do not make you an innovative artist who is pushing the limits of what is happening in the art world. As we grow as artists, we begin to think of ways of taking those making skills that we learned earlier and apply them in new and different ways. Learning to question the rules and seek to apply them in a different way than most do is certainly an essential part of being an artist. Finally, there is a third aspect to being an artist that is necessary to being successful, and this can be the most difficult, in my opinion. In order to be truly successful as an artist you need a good amount of business acumen. You must know not only how to turn your ideas into a physical work of art, but you must also know how to get yourself and your artwork seen. One of the most valuable things that I have learned in the last year is how to talk to others about my work and how to be confident in what I am creating. Being shy is still something that I struggle with, but I feel confident introducing myself to new people as an artist now and I know when to pull out the business card when I make a new connection.
These last few weeks I feel that I am starting to get some return on putting myself out there as people contact me when they are in need of a new pottery instructor even if we haven't spoken in many months. It's kind of nice to know that I am starting to develop a reputation in my community. Now to work on acquiring the job that I really want ;)