Why artists’ lives are different.

Yesterday, November 22nd, we celebrated the day of music and musicians, in memory of Saint Cecilia, who died on this day about 1800 years ago. This made me think about the difference between the life of  musicians (and artists in general) and the life of the rest of professions.

Is something pretty usual that people ask me  what do I do as a job, and my answer often seems to surprise them, since people expect a response like “I am seller”, “I work in an office”, “I am teacher”… So, with today’s post, I will try that people understand a bit more how is the world of artists – or aspirants to it 😉 -.

To explain it, I have divided dedications of musicians or artists in 5 big groups: teachers, students, employees, researchers and entrepreneurs.

We all know what teachers and students are. Employees are, for example, those who are working regularly in a company, which may be from a management agency, until an Orchestra of the state. And researchers are those that are dedicated to the study of what others make, and show us important information and conclusions for the development of the artistic activity.

And then there are the entrepreneurs, which embody what we could call the “truly artistic activity”. They are the musicians who want to develop their art, find their place in the world, make their voice to be heard. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is a task quite h and complicated.

(Note: of course I must add that all of them are combinable and it is quite usual, natural and recommended to do it. In fact, I consider myself a student, teacher, researcher and entrepreneur at the same time.)

Artists have something that most of the people hasn’t, and this is that we do what we do by passion, because do our art is what satisfy us. So satisfied are we just with performing that we are one of the few professions that often accept (unfortunately) unpaid work.

First of all, the artist is in the person, and not in the universities, courses or teachers. But obviously, not even the most beautiful flower can grow without water. Talent must also be trained. There are not achieved goals without practice. And one can’t  difference from another if he or she has not more talent and/or practice. How long must I practice? I think that each one decides that, but ideally is continuously, not only after finishing the college, but until one really feel that you cannot learn more (which means, if the person is not arrogant, “up to the end of your days”). This sounds so easy written in four lines, but in reality is many hours and sacrifice, usually since we are very young.

I personally think that all artists can find their place in the world, but our lives usually consist on create new ideas and projects, try to carry them out, and meanwhile survive doing other jobs (which can be teacher, employee, or often even things that has nothing to do with our profession). Our contacts network is crucial, since as wider it is (and especially more than the amount matter the quality of the contact) more likely we will have the chance to grow up our own projects or to participate in others’ projects.

“an artist is an artist because he is different than the rest”

So for us, it is not as easy as sending CVs and trying in job interviews. For us it is making tests and exams, showing our talent and our level continuously. It is to search new possibilities for playing or singing in a concert every day, so people can get to know you. It is a fight and a daily search: what I’m going to do today? And tomorrow, and the day after, etc. In fact, I believe that the artist who does not ask himself that, if he thinks that all days are the same, he is not going in the right direction, an artist is an artist because he tries to be different than the rest, and therefore not searching every day for your own way, at least in my opinion, is losing “artistic personality”.

That is why we are different. Most people follow the shown way. The artist styles his own way. Most people just fit into the system. The artist creates his methods. Most people covers functions that other employee could do. The artist is different and irreplaceable because of his unique personality. Most people seeks a permanent job. The artist has no “employment” but projects to short, medium or long term.

As you see, artists look a lot like a single-person companies ^_^ (if it is a profit or not-profit company, each one decides).

So, non-musician friends: Understand that we follow other rules. It’s not getting a job. It’s to be the job.

Maybe the stability that we miss it’s what we gain in variety, originality and freshness. I confess that on the one hand sometimes this indefinite life stresses me (by social pressure and also my own), but on the other hand I think I really enjoy designing my life year by year, month by month, day by day. Who knows? Maybe you too are an artist and you still don’t know it ;).