One Thing I’ve Learned: Artists Have Courage

The world of business and the world of art seem so far apart. Or so most people think.I thought the same as well. I have been a consultant and a university professor for a long time.

Then I opened an art gallery and started working with artists. I learned that there is a lot we can learn from artists.

First is courage. That’s right, courage.  It takes courage to even become an artist.

Masumi Yoshida At Work

The rest of the world does not support you in your decision.

In fact, most people will tell you to do something else.

They’ll tell you how hard your life will be, how you’ll starve, how your work is not good enough. They’ll even tell you to study accounting or something like that so you’ll have something to fall back on.

If a young person says, I want to be a doctor or a banker or a lawyer, people will say, “that’s wonderful.”

Even if they say they want to be in politician, people will wish them the best.

Not the same for those who want to be an artist.  The young person who wants to be an artist must take a big step and follow their heart, and harness their courage to become an artist.

Did it take any courage for you to choose your profession?

The need for courage does not stop with choice of career for artists.  Artists always push themselves to create something new and that means going into new directions and making a lot of mistakes. Artists are always pushing themselves.

When the artist changes what she does, the rest of the world will ask,

“why did you change?”  I loved your other stuff.”

So the artist must again defy convention and move ahead.

In creating art, there is so much risk for the artist.

Ryota Aoki, one of the ceramicists we work with, works 14 hours a day creating ceramics and he is always doing something new.

He tests more than 1,000 glazes in order to come up with a color that he is satisfied with. And after all that, he is subject to the vagaries of the kiln that might easily destroy his work or result in a very different color than what he expected.

Jun Ogata creates canvases that “seem to say Japan” to many people.  He primes the canvases, then paints it black or white, then adds a silver or gold coat, then adds another color.

When all of the coats have been applied, he faces the canvas and in one second he takes a cloth or a brush and then removes some of the paint.

In this one second, he can create a beautiful artwork or destroy it.  This kind of action takes courage. You can see the results here .

Tran Trong Vu

Tran Trong Vu, a Vietnamese artist we work with was one of the top art students in Vietnam, winning the top prize in his graduating class.  He was rewarded with a scholarship to study in France where he quickly abandoned painting the kinds of  stereotypical Vietnamese works that are everywhere in Vietnam.

He became very disillusioned with Vietnam and art there and began to paint political works that resulted in his being persona non grata in Vietnam.

He settled in France, married and now raises his two sons there. He risks permanent exile and incurs the wrath of the Vietnamese government  because of the overtly political nature of his work. Does it stop him?

Not at all.

The next time you see an artist, encourage them.  Congratulate them.  Buy something from them.  Artists show the courage that many of us could only begin to imagine.

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  1. zenhostel says:

    when doing art, one also becomes encapsulated in their immediate world in front of them… literally the canvas.

    it’s the courage to keep focused on the canvas and not look at where the ship is at any given moment and just let the sails do their thing….

  2. tassa nofewe hilaire says:

    I like your mining,and fall in love to your words.
    keep in touch,and be happy .

    your artist tassa from Cameroon.

  3. […] Dr. Bob Tobin, in his blog, states, “artists show the courage that many of us could only begin to imagine.”  This daily pumping out of what’s inside is a courageous undertaking.  Pamela Hodges states, “Creating takes courage.  Courage to stand out and be seen.  Courage to risk failure, and to risk success.”  To do less is to give in to the big “F” word.  Do we allow that to happen? […]