On Being an Artist

by Geoff Hall on January 6, 2012

On Being an Artist:

I’ve asked a few artists and a gallery owner to contribute to the Arts Mentoring Blog as guest bloggers over the coming weeks. After my own guestly appearance at GideonStrauss.com I thought it highlighted a good practice to follow. The focus of ‘On Being an Artist’ is one of identity and artistic experiences. This follows the theme of my book ‘The Artist’s Autobiography’ published by Upptacka Press in 2011.


We often discuss working as an artist, but don’t seem to focus on ‘being’ an artist. What does it mean to ‘be’ an artist? Being of course has to do with identity, it has to do with who we are and how we perceive and make sense of the world. ‘Being’ and ‘Doing’ though are not separate things, but intertwined and so no doubt, we will see a weaving together of these two themes. It will create an interesting discourse!


“Your worth is not based on your earning capacity. You were created as the culmination, the height of Creation; cherished, beloved and empowered to cultivate good stuff weaving in, out and running through God’s good stuff. We are here now to practice resurrection through our gifts in the Arts.” from The Artist’s Autobiography.


Being an artist means we participate in God’s creation; we don’t exist or work, isolated from Creation. Ours is not the Bohemian stance as one who lives beyond the experience of others, or one who shuns a relationship with those who share similar experiences of lament, of hardship, of institutional rejection.


“A light in the darkness is not a light alienated from the darkness. Our calling is to dwell in the darkness not hide away from it. We have to be where the darkness is so that we are perceived as light. This is not a comfortable armchair calling, it is uncomfortable and it can be threatening until the Comforter arrives, or should I say until we realise the Comforter’s already there.” from The Artist’s Autobiography


In the coming weeks, artists will give their responses to seven questions. Our first respondent is a gallery owner in Germany, Johannes Manz, so the questions have been slightly tweaked for him. (We’ll be publishing his words each weekday, but please note not on the weekends).

At the end of the series I’ll be asking each contributor back to write about their current projects. Watch this Space!



The guiding questions are as follows:

There is much talk of ‘doing stuff’ as an artist, about projects, about locking yourself away in your studio till the deadline. I’d like you to focus on this thing called ‘being’ an artist. Tell us how you see the world, how you experience it and how you make sense of your own story within the bigger story. Do you struggle with this? This is about who you are, your identity. 


Art students aren’t taught about how to expand their market as an artist; developing a client list, networking, promoting their work through social media. How do you go about attracting clients, getting people interested in your projects, finding funding sources, or marketing your work?


If there was one thing you could change about the relationship between the Church and the Arts, what would it be? 


What is the biggest challenge to you as an artist? 


Professional development – What do you see as the biggest necessity for developing your work as an artist? [250 words max]


Spiritual Development – How do you understand the need for the spiritual development of the artist? 


If you were giving advice to a young graduate wanting to make their way in the world as an artist, what would you say to them?

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