A few nights ago, I visited a dear friend's art show. I've never been one to frequent such events, which is a bit surprising, since I grew up in a town where galleries and exhibits are as common as palmetto bugs. As I was there, viewing dear friend's bright, colorful paintings and listening to a band of *ahem* questionable talent, I realized something.
Artists need each other.
Perhaps this idea isn't groundbreaking or profound, but it's something I've learned the value of, over and over again, in the past year.
When you're a student, particularly at an art school, community is incredibly easy to have. In fact, it's impossible not to have. My high school was overflowing with artists and talent. You couldn't walk down the halls without hearing Pachelbel's Canon coaxed out of a cello or walking through a skit performed, written and directed by the eccentric drama majors. Inspiration and accountability were built in to our curriculum. We thrived off of each other, off of the dozens of different art forms that sprung to life around us. Band, piano, drama, studio art, dance, writing, vocal... It was a bohemian artist's paradise. Yet we were so young, so ignorant of the real world, that we took it for granted.
College, while not as communally artsy, offered more focused community. My writing classes were all workshops, which meant that we had to read and critique each others work on a regular basis. This only served to hone our work. A fresh set of eyes is imperative to any story. An author needs critiques and opinions outside of herself (or himself) to create a story of any worth. College provided this, in a mandatory setting. Our professors warned us, at the beginning of every semester, that this was something rare. That we needed to treasure it.
"In the real world, there aren't workshops," they said, "You have to seek out critique partners like you're stalking a deer."
And now I'm out of such rigid, cohesive community. Outside of school, you have to create your own. So that's what I did. I found a critique partner. I joined Querytrackers and participated in their writing forums. I read blogs of authors like Maggie Steifvater and agents. I started frequenting Twitter. I forged my own community. Of course, this takes a certain amount of work and effort. It's no longer just handed to me as it was in school. I have to seek it out. I have to want it.
Artists need each other for inspiration and accountability. When I go to my friend's art show, or my brother's poetry reading, I'm refreshed. Something about being around others' art drives me in my own projects. I can't afford to be a hermit.
PS. check out dear friend's art here.