imaginehydreigons asked: Your work is stunning and I've been following your blog for a while now, I am so in awe of your life and the work you get to do! I say this as a struggling university student who hates her course and is having a tough time at the moment. I wish I could be like you and paint rugs and weave and work in my sketchbook all day :( How do you get to that stage? I feel like university has taken my love away from art & design!
Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear that university has left you disheartened. All I can say is hang on, because it’s only four years of your life (maybe six). Look on the sunny side at what your university has to offer: resources and facilities, advice from experienced professionals, and the time to make art your full-time occupation. You may not have these things after you graduate, and believe me, you’ll miss them.
It took about four years for me to get to where I am at the moment. I’ve tried a lot of different ways to support myself. I’ve been a waitress, barista, nanny, and held a full-time job in the arts in New York City. Here’s my condensed life story, if you’re curious. At the moment I’m living on a 9-month grant and I’ve arranged a few residencies to entertain me after my fellowship ends in June. Now you may be wondering how you can get an artist residency or travel grant… Here’s how I did it:
In college I took several writing courses, a business class for artists, and if I met any artist with a steady career I cornered them for advice. All of these things came in handy because artists need writing skills and business know-how more than you may expect. As a full-time artist, half of my time is dedicated to painting and the other half to business (maintaining my resume, website, and a social media presence; endlessly drafting essays for residencies, grants, and exhibition opportunities; and maintaining business relationships). If you’re an installation or performance artist these skills are especially necessary because it will be difficult for you to sell your artwork, and grant money could be your only source of income.
The biggest difficulty after school, which nearly broke me, is that residencies and grants will be hesitant to award you if you have a measly resume. They just want to be sure they’re awarding serious artists who don’t see their service as a free vacation. For the first three years after school I must have been rejected at least fifty times, and the things I won cost more money than I got in return. I waitressed and babysat on weekends to pay for framing and shipping costs to tiny shows in tiny galleries in tiny towns, in the hopes that it would lead to something else. They usually did not, but sometimes I’d get a small break: a painting would sell, I’d get interviewed or mentioned in an article, or I’d make a promising business connection.
Then I got a 3-month residency at Vermont Studio Center: a wonderful organization that does not consider resumes, just your body of work. Hallelujah! However, this residency is not free and I had to work three menial jobs simultaneously to cover tuition. Luckily, it turned out to be a worthwhile investment because I met and learned from a lot of professional artists who support themselves through art sales, grants, and “residency hopping.” Three shows were a direct result of the experience, and I was connected to the person who would become my affiliation for my Fulbright project, the most important and difficult element in a Fulbright application.
Slowly but surely my resume grew, with two big victories in 2013. A former professor with whom I’ve maintained a relationship introduced my art to the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, which acquired my largest painting, and shortly afterward I was awarded a Fulbright. Last month I applied for two residencies and I was awarded both, so I’m hoping that’s a sign that after three years of surviving by the skin of my teeth, my experience level is finally enough to give me a competitive edge. But as an artist I live year to year, so nothing is for certain and my luck could easily change.
My three biggest pieces of advice are to be professional, ask for advice from people who are more experienced than you, and don’t let the rejections get to you. While you’re still in school take a professional writing course. I also recommend Caroll Michels’ book, “How to Survive and Prosper As An Artist.” This book details how to make a proper artist resume, how to find exhibition opportunities, grant-writing 101, tax deductibles available to artists, etc. For fellowships and residencies check out TransArtists. For a rolling list of exhibition opportunities, I like NYFA.
And preserve that love of art! Try your best to keep a happy relationship with your practice, even if that means stealing time to invest in a small art project that is just for you. Love is the only reason I poured in the aforementioned time, money, and energy. If you love making art enough, you’ll do these things without thinking, and the life you want will be within reach.
Anonymous asked: Do you mix water with the ink? How long have you been using ink? Do you ever use other mediums? Will you post a picture of the brushes you use the most?
I have been using ink for about six years. I do mix it with water, and sometimes without water if I want more opacity. I also enjoy oil paint, watercolors, and black sumi ink. The only medium I dislike is pure acrylic paint. Let me tell you all about my lovely kolinsky sable brush collection here.
If you’d like to learn about my process in greater detail, stick around and keep an eye out for process photos, which appear from time to time. This is a particularly helpful post you might enjoy.
Anonymous asked: do you use acrylic? oils? watercolor?
Daler Rowney FW acrylic inks are thick and easy to layer, but they still have the slick and fluid texture of ink. Best of all— thanks to their acrylic binders, the colors won’t fade over time.
I also use natural inks from a variety of companies, including Winsor & Newton. These inks are more delicate. If not taken care of and kept out of sunlight, they will fade over time. However, they’re worth the risk because natural color is always bright, pure, and quite frankly, more beautiful.
Thank you for your question!
Anonymous asked: Why are you currently living in Istanbul?
I moved to Istanbul in September 2013 with a Fulbright Student Research Grant to research carpets from the Seljuk Empire (11th-14th centuries, Central Anatolia). Only eighteen carpets from this time period survive today, so I am making paintings of what other Seljuk carpets may have looked like, had they not been lost or destroyed over the centuries. These carpets are actually from Konya, but they’re all on display in Istanbul.
I love to travel and I’ve always been fascinated by Turkey. I started painting carpets for fun after graduating from Carnegie Mellon in 2010 when a good friend and former Fulbrighter suggested I look into the program.
i’m p sure this is Maira Kalman??