What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

Published on Sunday, September 14, 2014. This article appears in the October/November 2014 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author Staff

Left to right: Dan Dailey, Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, Bruce Pepich, Dante Marioni, Sharon Church

You think you’re going to be the director of the Walker Art Center. You are; it’s just the Walker of the craft world. One day you will be surprised to discover that a single museum has become the basis of your life’s work. Remember that it is always the artwork that is important. In 100 years, the objects we leave behind will communicate on our behalf to those who follow us. The people you will meet in this field are wonderful – each has something of importance to share with you. Enjoy the journey – it’ll be a remarkable adventure! ~Bruce W. Pepich, executive director and curator of collections, Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI; ACC Honorary Fellow, 2012 

Stay focused, show up on time, and always be respectful, especially to the people who you admire and want to work with. There is no better way to learn than to be around people who are way more experienced than you are and observe them in action. Don’t forget how important it is to take any opportunity to be in a hot shop for just about any reason; there is value in almost any experience. Have good photographs taken of the things you make. Go to Pilchuck always, for any reason. ~Dante Marioni, glass artist, Seattle; ACC Fellow, 2012 

First of all, I am not sure that my younger self would listen, nor do I have any desire to be young again, as I cannot imagine doing everything over! That being said, I would advise my younger self to find out who you are as a person and not worry so much about others’ opinions – simply make what you want, and have children earlier. Have confidence, especially in your art, and trust in your own curiosities. Teach, if you can, because teaching allows you to hear yourself a little more objectively and inspires you to reach beyond what you think you are capable of. ~Sharon Church, studio jeweler, professor of crafts at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia; ACC Fellow, 2012 

When recalling my formative years as an undergraduate and graduate student pursuing my BA, MA, and MFA, I was very intent on being an artist. In addition, I was more involved pursuing double-weave loom technique to develop 3D fiber forms than ideas. The advice I would give my younger self would be as follows: Become more involved in creative research of artists in all art and craft mediums to expand your understanding of art and craft history. Read more books on philosophy; read published artist statements and artist writings. Most importantly, be prolific and prepare to discuss/defend the ideas behind the artworks you are creating. ~Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, alumni endowed professor in the School of Art and Visual Studies, University of Kentucky, Lexington; ACC Fellow, 2007 

Harry Partch said, “Considering the constitution of our society, I feel that an artist might as well give up who isn’t blessed either with a substantial dependable income or a substantial dependable ring dang doo.” Selling the work pays for the next piece, so it’s an essential component of most artists’ survival. But pursuit of sales invites repetition of popular works, often related to acquired techniques and processes. The expression of individual imagination defines an artist, more than skills or awareness of the contemporary art world. If you can manage to keep producing and realize personal ideas that communicate thoughts and provoke response, your work as an artist can be very satisfying. ~Dan Dailey, glass artist, Kensington, NH; ACC Fellow, 1998