A Pessimistâ€™s Guide to Becoming an â€œArtistâ€ in San Francisco
With the Art Institute, Academy of Art, and CCA making their homes here, the Bay Area is rife with young â€œartists,â€ the local galleries teeming with amateurish art shows. (There, I said it. And I’ll warn you now that if you’re already offended, you probably should not read any further.) Aside from the prerequisites of poor draftsmanship, oversized plaid shirts â€œaccidentallyâ€ splattered with dried paint, and a cursory knowledge of Photoshop to make your digital snapshots look old-timey, there are a few other things you should know how to do if you’re going to call yourself an artist. Thankfully, the Bay offers up plenty of FREE and affordable ways to learn these invaluable skills. Here are just a few to get you started.
1. Know the basic skills associated with your medium. Don’t be the writer who doesn’t read, the cyclist that can’t change their tire, the painter who can’t paint (well, it looks like that one just might be unavoidable). Blick: â€œIf you’ve always wondered how to stretch canvas, then this is the demo for you!â€ Me: If you’ve always wondered how to stretch canvas, then you’re probably not a legitimate painter.
2. If you don’t have any novel ideas for photography subjects swimming around in that pretty head yours, just resort to cheap tricks. Lucky for you, the vapidly titillating, navel-gazing photographs you took of your drunk friends are popular right now (god knows why). Just go to pretty much any amateur photography show and you’ll see how you can remain complacently self-absorbed and still call yourself a â€œphoto documentarian.â€ If all else fails, pretend you’re younger than you are or, better yet, tell everyone that your kid did it. People love a prodigy, even if their photos are blurry.
3. Try to get your art displayed at a reputable gallery. As nice and touchy-feely as it might be to show your art at the cooperative where you live, along with a bunch of other hungover residents who have as little money as you do, try to remember that you’re in the business of actually selling your art. It’s time to hustle. In this helpful piece, the Bold Italic‘s Nicole Grant explores just what it takes to get onto the most coveted walls in San Francisco. Go see what you’re up against so you don’t get â€œweeded out.â€ (Either that or continue bumming around at your art co-op and spend all day getting weeded out, but I can assure you that the munchies won’t help further your already improbable career.)
Hang Art Gallery
567 Sutter St. @ Mason [Union Square]
Mon-Sat 10am to 6pm
Sun 12 to 5pm
4. If you’re finally ready to admit defeat, tell your parents they were right (they wanted you to be a lawyer) or wrong (they told you your art was â€œfabulousâ€ but it turned out they were just being parentsâ€”you could have defecated on a piece of paper and they would have gushed over its â€œmaturityâ€), and abandon your misguided dreams, at least you can still make t-shirts. I’m pretty sure Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley exists simply to show you that a failed artist can still sit on the street all day and sell graphic tees to tourists. If you don’t know how because you’re just that bad at art, or spent your art school years sitting at a pottery wheel (waiting for the ghost of good artâ€¦get it? Because good art is dead?), don’t fret. You can always take another art class.
Tuesday, April 6, 6-9pm
Rock Paper Scissors Collective
2278 Telegraph Ave. @ 23rd
Cost: $25 (all materials will be provided)
In the end, it’s a huge gamble to dedicate your life to art. Many great artists have died broke and in complete obscurity. Just try not to be one of those and you’ll be ahead of the curve.