Polling the Artist: Question 3 (part 1)

Question 3! I week late, but it was Canada day, so.... the question is
What has been one challenge for you in pursuing your craft?

If you'd like to learn more about the artists featured, just click on their links! Here's Alexis Marsh.

Alexis Marsh: Musician/ Composer

Money can be a struggle but I've found that something usually works out. Somehow the rent gets paid or an expected bill comes at the same time as a GST cheque or something like that. Maybe that's my firm belief in 'the secret' though.
Paying dues can be tough in film composing but that applies to anyone who just wants to get to the big projects. These things take time, and the opportunity to learn about the business without taking on all of the responsibility of the success of a project is a great benefit.
Okay, I'll answer the question now: finding like-minded musicians to believe in your artistic vision is the biggest struggle as a young improvisor. As a jazz saxophonist, my three favorite people to play with are spread out across North (and soon to be South) America. We became great friends while in graduate school and, I learned to trust them when I improvised, something I had not done before. Slowly, I am meeting musicians in Toronto I can share ideas with, but with something so intimate, I find it difficult to play with people I hardly know or feel only politely civil to (and that's really because of a lack of time together). I find with young jazz musicians, it is very difficult for them to be vulnerable with the people they play with. Perhaps it is after so many years of competition or a lack of validation or something but if I can't have a decent conversation about, you know, something banal like shoes or a tv show or something, I can't let my guard down enough to feel comfortable with how or what I play with them. That friendship is what helps me forget about my insecurities surrounding my playing/writing; helps me forget about myself and focus on making something together.

Alexandra Krakus: Musician

little to no $$ within a capitalist economy ignorantly enthusiastic about its orgiastic avarice means few recording/manufacturing opportunities, limited touring opportunities (esp. with rising gas prices), and little promotion.
ahhh, what a wonderful society we have created for ourselves...
thank [insert preferred deity here] Canada still has vestiges of social programs like those administered by its various arts-grants agencies; although these programs too often succumb to favouritism and ignorance, they're better than nothing.

Matt Lennox: Writer/ Filmmaker

XBox 360 and high-maintenance friends.

Kaya Fraser: Musician

Money, or the lack thereof, is definitely an issue, but I have to point out that there are also WAY more opportunities these days for an independent musician (I won't speak for the other arts) to get her music recorded and listened to. Pretty much everyone in the industry acknowledges this now. It still takes a bit of cash, but it's certainly more feasible that it once was--AND one can do it totally on one's own, without necessarily having to prostrate oneself to a corporation for it. The granting agencies are more than just vestiges: they are going strong, and there are more of them than one might think. Plus, because the industry is blowing wide open, there are no real rules anymore about needing to get such and such a grant in order to do anything: artists are coming up with more and more creative ways of finding capital to back them.

The flip side is, of course, that with more opportunities comes the requirement of more legwork for the artist herself, above and beyond a pretty shrewd business ethic. Nowadays "indies" must be their own managers, agents, publicists, grant-writers, etc. If you go about it seriously and professionally, it can really take up all of your time--particularly at the beginning, when you're learning how to do it. So the challenge for me--to answer the question posed--is probably learning how to do all these jobs efficiently, so that there's enough time left over for, you know, writing *songs* and stuff. But it is possible: the other big challenge is to avoid becoming discouraged and jaded. This is a very good time to be making art on one's own: the business of it is just a new kind of game, where the rules are still very much unwritten.

Kristy Gordon: Artist

The main challenge in painting for me is just to always keep it real and personal and true to the self. Whenever I start to feel like I'm not painting what I really want to, or in a technique that I'm not really excited about, I try hard to use that to motivate me to grow into whatever it is that I would like to be doing. I think that in the gallery system there is so much emphasis on each artist having a "signature style and subject matter" that it can limit the artist into just painting the same thing over and over, which can definitely lead to boredom an disillusionment on the part o f the artist. So yeah, instead I just keep trying knew stuff all the time!


Sam said...

hey Shawn,
I really enjoy the 'polling the artist' segments. They are great.
keep them up!

Shawn William Clarke said...

Thanks man. I'll be putting up part two tomorrow. Thanks for the comment, it reminds me that people are reading!