Jennifer Ament + Thoughts on Artistry

I stumbled across Jennifer Ament's artwork today because Facebook suggested her as a friend. Every so often, I find myself curious about who Facebook's algorithms decide are likely friends of mine. After clicking through and seeing her artwork, well, I didn't know her personally, but I did find her artwork so engaging. And it looks like she is a fellow Seattlite. 

Seeing her beautiful work made me miss printmaking in college and really all of the art making that is essentially your job as an art student. After working as an artist's assistant and seeing the type of struggles that are expected of you as an artist, the sacrifices and the hardships, I became way too scared of instability to become a full time artist. Instead, I became a clueless entrepreneur with a totally unstable income and schedule and life, an artist in a business woman's clothing. I think because the industry of fashion appears to be so much more financially stable and thriving as opposed to the abstract world of artists, I gravitated towards creating a business within fashion a few years ago. Ah, but the funny thing is that, as time went on, the more I've needed to structure my business like a traditional business within the fashion realm, the more I have come to understand that I am more artist that business woman. And the world of fashion is just as mind boggling and constantly changing and unstable as the world of art. 

The trickiest thing about being an artist is that to survive, most often you must garner business skills. My inner self wants to flow freely, to have time to think and think and think, be in stillness and quiet, feel deeply, and just live in the moment. But ever since I was a little kid, I've had anxiety and depression, and worry is an annoying presence that often stops me from living in and enjoying what is present. I'm a dreamer and an abstract far forward thinking planner at times, and it is often the fear of instability and the wonder and worry of the future that diverts me down different tracks or stops me from living moment to moment and instead stressing about the future and it's mysteries. In many ways, fear is often what stops us from doing what is best for us, and other times fear is what drives us TO choose something powerful for ourselves. And I feel that both ways in being at the point that I am in my career of many things. That's a confusing sentence, but it's the best way that I can explain it. 

In many ways, I've built my careers of being a retail owner, a jewelry designer, a product designer and an author AS an artist within the realm of business. But actually feeling like an artist within the process of building and sustaining a store, an online retail site, a jewelry line, desktop products, and books is a very tricky experience. I think many artists would agree, the time you actually get to spend on the art itself often feels like far less time that you wish you had. There are always other things you have to do outside of the art making to sustain yourself. And whether I were purely a painter or illustrator like I trained for in college, or whether I was still exactly the person I am now with the jobs that I have, I think I would always feel this strain of never having enough time or space or quiet to just BE an artist, to BE a maker and a creative.

I think that yearning is a good sign. It means that as an artist, you have something to say and to express. It's just that ever present hardship of figuring out HOW to express it and when and why and all that frustrating, maddening but passion fueling crap. UGH. As an artist, as a human, there is so much that I want to express. And I think when I first started my many careers, I thought, THIS is how I will do it, this is how I will express myself fully to the world. And then as each micro business was built, I realized that no one thing will help me express all of myself. And even all of them combined is not enough. Oh, and on top of that, I am a human and I'm always going to find new interests, new passions and questions that need to be pursued and explored and expressed. So of course no one career path is going to fulfill all of me. I'm also going to be morphing. There's also the constant question of what elements of self do I express where? It's my nature to want to release strong feelings that are fully true to myself within all realms of self expression. But being that my name is on my business, there are times when self expression does not make sense with Business, with a capital B.

As I have said a million times over in the last 3 years, I want to feel safe to express myself here on my blog. I want to channel the artist within me to feel free to write and express and release within the space, free from fear and worry. I think many people see me as a feeler and think less of me or don't take me very seriously become of it, but just because I feel deeply it does not mean that I do not think just as deeply. I research, I read, I am always looking to seek and learn and unlock truths. And I want to share that here again. I don't want to prove anything. I just want to share. I want to take inspiration from artists and writers and voices that are empowered and unafraid yet thoughtful with what they release out into the world. As with anything, as I review all I have attempted to do over my last 30 years, I just want to be heard. And annoyingly for me, to experience feeling truly heard it means a shit ton of self expression and release through writing and painting and music making and crafting and whatever other tactile way I can find to express my thoughts. Ah, to be satisfied just talking to people. I think that would make me an extrovert. I love talking to people but I need to express so much more of me in a million other ways. And I need to be alone to make that happen. Not all the time, just some :)

I'll do it somehow. And right now it starts with blogging again. No set commitment, just trying.

Be sure to check out more of Jennifer Ament's work here. Simply magical, it definitely lead me on a late night thought train on what art means to me.

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