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Monday, January 18, 2016

Stop Starving and Keep Creating: Artist's U FREE Book and Workshops on Living a Sustainable Life as an Artist

I attended a wonderful workshop this weekend, Artist's U.  It was run by Andrew Simonet, a Philedalphia based writer, time-based artist, producer, documentary filmmaker, and the founder of Artists U.  

Sponsored by the South Carolina Arts Commission, I knew it would be good, so I was pleased when two MFA candidates from Clemson University's Art Department attended with me.  Still, I wasn't prepared for just how good it would be.  Perhaps that's because the premise is fairly simple in concept, but also one that needs - and is nurtured by - community. 

It may sound sappy, but when Andrew says:
  • Thank you.
  • Thank you for being an artist. Thank you for making your work.
  • Thank you for choosing a life which can be hard, and hard to explain.
It felt - and I sincerely believe it was - real.  And it was affirming.  It was also a great opportunity to take time to assess my life as an artist.  

Even though I've been making art seriously for for nearly 40 years and teaching it since 1988, to me it was an opportunity for me to explore, what my friend, mentor, and major professor Larry Millard called, "the lessons you learn over and over again."  Those are the lessons that one needs to relearn not because one is dense, but because - with any luck - one's life evolves.  Certain core values - and or an artist, what is more core than the act of making?  What make the workshop more purposeful is that Andrew also asks participants to examine their behaviors that support - or all to often, don't - one's creative life.
As Andrew asks, "Why is it so hard? Why are so many talented artists exhausted and broke?"

MAKING Your Life as an Artist, Andrew's book, looks at the challenges artists face:
  • Why artists are poor and why we shouldn’t be. 
  • The crucial role artists play in culture, and why it’s often under-valued. 
  • Tools and principles artists have used to thrive. 
  • Why artists already have the skills needed to make balanced, sustainable lives.

Grounded in his 20-year career as a choreographer, he looks at why artists’ lives are so punishing, and what they can do to change. Since 2006, his program, Artists U, has built a grassroots, artist-run platform for building balanced, sustainable artist lives. Like all Artists U programming, the ebook of MAKING Your Life as an Artist is free and available to all.

Therefore I have decided to help spread the word and build the movement:
  • We want 100,000 artists to read this book. (76,615 downloads so far. Nice work, everybody.)
  • We want you to share the free ebook everywhere. It's free, people. Pass it around. Don't hold back.
Seriously. There's no catch, no money-making scheme hiding behind the free-ness. It's free because Andrew want tons of artists to read it, and he want us to change the art world and our culture. So please pass the it around!

Second printing of Making Your Life as an Artist. Get a hard copy or free ebook:

I was so inspired that I am incorporating our working group meetings into my ART 8060, Graduate Seminar in Professional Practices class, for those who where unable to attend.  I may even offer a few updates!

Many thanks for Andrew, the SC Arts Commission for sponsoring this event, and to my fellow participants, and to the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, who provided a lovely venue!
Greg Shelnutt
Chair and Professor of Art
Art Department
Clemson University

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