What Obstacles Have You Encountered As An Artist?

MentorMe is a free resource for creatives who wish to learn from their peers. This MentorMe Q&A resource provides insights into their initial artistic journey, what obstacles they have encountered and how they found their personal style. In each guide a different group of artists and photographers will share their insights, personal experiences and advice with creatives that wish to grow and evolve in their artistic practice.

Beautiful Bizarre Magazine mentors encourage, guide and inspire emerging artists as they explore their creativity, develop their technical skills and find their personal style.

MentorMe Edition 2 Mentors:

Caia Koopman, Jim McKenzie, Kindra Nikole, Brian Viveros, Hannah Yata, Nicomi Nix Turner, Rodrigo Luff, Martin Wittfooth, and Derek Gores

In Edition 2 Beautiful Bizarre Magazine’s Mentors respond to the following questions:

  • Have you changed your initial artistic field/medium since you begun your artistic journey? Or have you remained true to your original medium and passion for what you wanted to create? If not, where has your artistic journey led you and why?
  • What obstacles have you encountered as an artist, and what were you able to do to overcome or navigate those to become stronger and more effective?
  • How did you find your personal style? When did you feel you have reached a place where your work was recognisable and you could continue confidently with the same work?

Below 3 of the 9 mentors respond to the following question:

What obstacles have you encountered as an artist, and what were you able to do to overcome or navigate those to become stronger and more effective?

Caia Koopman surreal portrait artwork - What obstacles have you encountered as an artist?

What obstacles have you encountered as an artist, and what were you able to do to overcome or navigate those to become stronger and more effective?

Caia Koopman: “There are so many obstacles to hurdle as an artist, it’s hard to pick where to start. How to stay afloat financially, how to survive painting for the year it takes to fill up a gallery for a solo show, what if the show doesn’t sell very well, what to paint, who to please (yourself or your audience), are you ok with spending hours upon hours all by yourself just working on your art, can you afford to experiment or change your style, how to survive a nasty case of artist block, where to find inspiration, what is your message, should I even be an artist?

Holy fudgesicles it’s not easy! The answer to this question is all of the above and yes I was able to overcome these things (if just barely) and I do feel I have become stronger and more effective ultimately but not easily.”

Kindra Nikole nude portrait photography  - What obstacles have you encountered as an artist?

What obstacles have you encountered as an artist, and what were you able to do to overcome or navigate those to become stronger and more effective?

Kindra Nikole: “Too many obstacles to begin recounting here, so I’ll have to pick the few that stick out to me the most prominently. The first: other people discouraging me from following my own path. This includes well-intentioned folk—people I considered close friends. Sometimes that discouragement would be very blatant. When I was a teenager, a wealthy photographer with his own studio in a swanky city, offered to look through my work and then scoffed at my portfolio.

He told me I’d never “make it” unless I paid tens of thousands of dollars to attend the same prestigious school he went to. I had friends discourage me from exploring colour in my drawings until I read loads of books and went to art school. I had other friends tell me that unless I was drawing every single day, I’d fail at whatever my artistic endeavours might be. Basically everyone will have an opinion about your decision to pursue art and the way in which you choose to pursue it. And the thing is, much of the advice was indeed meant to aid me. But at the time, it hurt my newly forming artistic sensibilities, which were quite young and fragile, and I chose to allow those things to stunt my growth and discourage me; which leads me to my next thought regarding obstacles.

Self-doubt. Whether that doubt is created entirely on your own or grows from the discouragement that you can and will hear from others, self-doubt destroys magical opportunities and crushes your ability to truly come into your own as an artist. I allowed my own self-doubt and the words of others to take the helm in my very personal internal artistic space—a space I had commanded my entire life prior. It wasn’t until I adamantly told that nagging voice in my head to go away and that I was bored with listening to it that I really started to find myself again. When I allowed myself to play, without judgment, and experiment, that’s when I tapped back in to those deep passionate roots. They’d been there all along, just waiting for me to decide that I was ready to be myself once more.

Everyone has something to say about the choices you make and the path you lead, including yourself. Learn to drown out the rabble with your own personal passion. Allow yourself to play and experiment in the same way you would as a child. You wouldn’t tell a child colouring with pencils and paints and sparkles to “be more sensible,” would you? Treat yourself with that same gentle regard when creating. Also: being a bit obstinate, when well considered, can go a long way.”

Rodrigo Luff surreal figurative artwork  - What obstacles have you encountered as an artist?

What obstacles have you encountered as an artist, and what were you able to do to overcome or navigate those to become stronger and more effective?

Rodrigo Luff: “In 2009, I left the Julian Ashton Art School and I had no idea what I was going to do with the skills I learnt there. Hardly any of the contemporary galleries wanted oil paintings or drawings that were figurative, especially with female nudes or anything too “pretty”. They didn’t want artwork that looked too much like illustration either. I had the misfortune of making work that had all of these elements, so I didn’t have much hope of getting an exhibition, let alone selling my work.

So I just decided to post my work on my online blog (anyone remember and just make work for fun. This sparked the curiosity of some new galleries on the West Coast of the USA – mainly around the L.A. area and San Francisco. I agreed to exhibit my work because I wanted to bypass the whole Australian art scene and just go somewhere else that would allow me to paint and draw what I wanted.

The internet and early days of social media as well as a massive dose of luck really helped me overcome that initial hurdle, and since then I’ve been exhibiting in the U.S. regularly. Meeting the local artists, fans and gallery owners in person also really helped me connect with like minded people and encourage me to work harder and continue on the path.

It’s only in the past year that I’ve been able to exhibit more of my work in Australia to a more receptive audience, and that is thanks to wonderful, supportive people like the owners of Beinart Gallery (and your magazine of course!). I’d encourage everyone to do whatever it takes to make the work that you want to do. Don’t compromise your own vision and the work you believe in to fit into a particular scene or industry, even if it involves travelling to the other side of the planet and spending a lot on shipping!”

To read the other Mentors’ answers to this question or any other in Edition 2 please click here to download our FREE Artist Resource, MentorMe.

About Author

Caitlyn Gregson is the Social Media Manager of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, and a 3rd year Bachelor of Fine Arts student at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She started her journey with Beautiful Bizarre Magazine in April 2017 as an intern, working closely with the Editor-in-Chief to learn about independent publishing and the arts. Caitlyn continues to work with the Editor-in-Chief, Danijela Krha Purssey, providing editorial and curatorial support, and now she also provides input into the magazine curation, assists with the administration of the annual Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize, manages the magazine submissions process and MentorMe, the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine free artist resource. Caitlyn started her artistic journey as an acrylic portrait painter, but is now focusing more on photography, which she is falling more and more in love with each day. She loves spending her time reading and is a self proclaimed plant mum. Caitlyn loves all things weird, wonderful, beautiful and bizarre. And just between us, she’s also a little bizarre herself - but aren’t we all!

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