Welcome to South by Southwest, Now Go On Home, Y'all

TheSpew, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The newspaper ran an interesting article this weekend, talking about all of the folks in town for the latest edition of the South by Southwest music festival. The article was actually entitled “10 Things You Never Want to Hear a Visitor Say” (or some such thing.) Basically, it was things we local Austinites don’t want to hear out-of-towners say while visiting.

This got me to thinking. What are some of things I never want to hear other artists or photographers say? Curious question isn’t it? I suppose I have a few answers too.

To the out-of-town person, Austin looks like cheap real estate. One of the newspaper’s “top 10” was something along the lines of “Why is real estate so cheap here?” along with “Austin is nice. I think I’ll move here with my 62 relatives.” Oye! Just what we need, more people moving from places like New York and California. (Ahem, not to be confrontational, but, the next time you hear some New Yorker or somebody from Cali start to put down Texans for being “rednecks,” “unwashed masses,” or the like, do please remind them that most of the folks that live in Texas now have moved here recently from either of those two places. Oh, and it goes without saying really, but, they moved to get *away* from the likes of the person putting down Texas.)

The artist equivalent of this would be, “Oh! I’ve just purchased a new studio! It’s 2900 square feet, complete with a warehouse and a trolly for moving and storing my artwork. I hope to recoup the costs in a few months.” Likewise, “I’m going to move to Austin, because there are so many artists there. They must all be making a living, so I’m going to quit my ‘day job’ and move to Austin, where it’s cheap, and just make money working as an artist.” Ahem. Good luck with that. (For those of you not in the know, there’s a reason we have a bunch of unemployed artist types here in Austin-it’s kind of cheap living here and so the City attracts them. Not to mention, it’s not as cheap as it sounds and it’s really hard to break into a market with *so many* already good, established artists. Really. It is.)

Another art-ism would be just the simple, “I’m quitting my day job!” While I usually agree with this one (and, frankly, wish I could too!) it’s not usually a good idea. It’s hard to make money as an artist and even harder to eek out a living without the stability of a day job. To put it another way, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and still have a day job. I know many people (in Austin, yes, but also outside of Austin) who have MFA’s and work at McDonald’s (or the like) waiting for their “big break.” If you think that somebody with 20 or more years of experience and a “day job” cannot make it, but you, magically will, best of luck to you. Ahem, once “reality” hits, do please join us in line down at the local art center. Austin, while not the easiest of towns to “make it big” and certainly not the land of “just go on and quit your day job. Come on down, y’all!” does have more than it’s share of friendly, willing to share, working artists. And that is worth something, even if it means you haven’t quite won the “artist lottery” just yet (can flip off the boss man and run out of the building kind of a thing.)

Another on my list of “oh no, you didn’t!?” saying is along the lines of the following. “I love art so much. And, I’m so into it that I decided to break out my credit cards, run out and buy XXX dollars worth of art supplies.” You know this one. It could be paint, a new easel, and 10,000 blank canvases or it could be 15G’s worth of camera equipment. Newsflash: it’s not usually a good idea to run up credit card debt to finance a career in the arts,…you know the arts, don’t you? Those are the starving people…the people who never get paid? Right. Those arts. Better to take things slowly, my frugal friends. Buy a basic camera, learn how to work it, take your time, take what the camera gives you, sell a few prints, and then, once you make a few bucks on the side, put that towards a new camera, new lens whatever. Same if you are a painter. Buy a simple drawing set, a simple paint kit. Some basic colors. Learn how to make green. Make your own shade of green. Get a few shows, start to like your work, feel comfortable with it. Then it’s time to decide to upgrade your easel or get new canvas or invest in the Old Holland deluxe painting kit (you know the one-with every color they’ve ever made and a price to give you a nosebleed or, in the very least, a small stroke of sorts.) Yeah, it’s kind of like exercise. You want to stretch first. Work your way up to doing Russian gymnastics from the high beam, not just run into the gym all headstrong and take a flipping, flying leap.

I could go on but, hey, these are things you *don’t* want to hear me say, right?

And, it goes without saying really. Welcome to South by Southwest. While you are visiting, please do recall that we have scorpions here. And Rattlesnakes. And rattlesnakes that EAT scorpions. And giant flying roaches that come down from the trees. But, it’s ok. These things only come out when it’s *not* like tornado season, mmmm’k?

Yeah, welcome to Texas, y’all! Now please, each and every one of you, GO THE HELL HOME AGAIN!

Until next time…

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