Life Not Imitating Art
November 1, 2007 5:41 PM   Subscribe

How do I get art back into my life?

So I'm an art historian/photographer turned law student and I really feel a void missing now that art isn't a part of my daily life. My skills as a photographer have also gone to hell. Right now I find the only real way I have any sort of style/design/art in my life is through clothes, which may sound odd, but I obsessively read the sartorlist and am a far more stylish dresser than my budget really allows. I don't have a lot of time and Washington, DC is hardly a great place for taking pictures. I know there are loads of museums, but to be honest I've been too them and they are not exactly the most dynamic places and obviously have a very heavy bent towards American art. My background is in modern European art and Renaissance art, with a lot of modern design and architecture thrown in. I realize the obvious answer would be to go to more shows, but really I want to find a way to incorporate it into my daily life. I used to take pictures nearly every day or at least a couple days a week, and now I don't have the time or opportunity to do that. So how do people have super corporate jobs still find an artistic outlet at the end of the day?
posted by whoaali to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
read the artists way- end of story.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:52 PM on November 1, 2007

I am not sure what you are looking for--are you trying to carve out more time for yourself to pursue art, or are you looking to spend time with creative people in artistic environments? Many museums are now playing around with "art after dark" events and quasi-parties/activities for adults. Many art districts also go all out for "First Friday" type events where all the galleries in a certain district stay open later than usual. That can have the feel of a good pub crawl with the right crowd. As far as incorporating it in to your daily life, maybe you need to get yourself on a few email lists and get updates from galleries, museums, etc. so you feel more involved.
posted by 45moore45 at 5:53 PM on November 1, 2007

I second the idea about the First Fridays-- I think there's one in DC? Perhaps you could volunteer on weekends at an art gallery to meet other artistically geared people. Also, being in DC-- you're not that far from other places (New York, rural areas, Philly, Boston, etc) to go and find other places.

Otherwise, you just have to carve out time to produce art--not sure how your schedule is-- but if you can wake up earlier to shoot some photos, or develop photos at night-- that'll help you. You sound busy but I bet managing your time so that art is an option will fulfill you better. Cutting out the time you spend reading the Sartorialist to take a photo or even learn a new artistic skill (even just doodling in a Moleskine until you find more time to photograph things) might make you feel less artistically empty. Or make lists of what you're interested in and start finding out where you can go to shoot those things-- keep your brain thinking about making art and even if you're not actually taking the photos you're not letting it go to pot completely and it'll encourage you and excite you to make time for art.
posted by actionpact at 6:16 PM on November 1, 2007

Would you consider taking up a form of art other than photography? It seems like things like long hours at work would affect photography more than other art forms because of lighting.

Why not try painting? You could do that in your own home whenever you want, and it might appeal to the visual side of things in a similar way to photography.

If you're willing to branch out to something not visual, I highly recommend writing. If you need some motivation, why not give National Novel Writing Month a try? It involves writing a 50,000 word novel entirely in the month of November. It started today, so you'll be a tad bit behind, but if you put your mind to it I bet you could catch up. There's a pretty big network involve with nanowrimo, and a lot of people do it, so there's a community there for support and encouragement, too

I suppose the point of my post is to give something else a try. It might be difficult for photography to fit into your life right now, but there are so many other art forms out there that I'm sure you can find something.
posted by plaingurl at 7:07 PM on November 1, 2007

So how do people have super corporate jobs still find an artistic outlet at the end of the day?

I hate to be bleak, but by and large, they do not. "Super corporate jobs" do not leave the energy for much artistic effort, except perhaps for some Sunday painting.
posted by jayder at 7:13 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

DC is the dork capitol of everything - for every small, pulsing obsession, there is a little group that meets at a Starbucks to start a project. Granted, DC is not New York or Chicago. And it's got a serious city-wide fashion emergency. But it's also hardly the ass end of the art universe.

Centers of Ren/Euro culture are:

- the folger
- the shakespeare theater (they are dying for ushers and volunteers)
- the Goerte institute has particularly German, but also European films, art and speakers
- The Hirschhorn tends to be more international than most other museums - they're looking for volunteers for their highly hipster evening activities
- many embassies have art & culture nights - check the website of your favorite country
- Cultural DC runs a mailing list that lists off the beaten track events, many of which seem like they would interest you

Take a weekend immersive in something to see what grabs you. Alexandria's Art League has good classes. Obviously, some media are more portable than others, but it might jump start you. Glen Echo and the Washington Glass School are also doing some great stuff (one of the Glass School teacher does mostly architectural decorations) The Smithsonian has a variety of lectures and scholars on art, which is a great place to meet like-minded people.

There's also a big dyi/crafty community, which can be a cheap, uninhibited way to start thinking again.

It sounds like you're most frustrated than anything else - if you're in DC, interested in architecture, and can't find anything to photograph, you're either burnt out or not looking past the monuments.
posted by beezy at 7:26 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Have you considered making your own clothes? It sounds like you have moved away from photography, so why not try something else? And don't get caught up in whether or not you are Making Art, the important thing is that you find a creative activity; that you are having fun making something. Follow what interests you.

You might also want to read Art and Fear, it has been incredibly useful for a number of people that I know. Also, do you have any friends that make art? Maybe it's time to give them a visit.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 7:31 PM on November 1, 2007

whoaali: I used to take pictures nearly every day or at least a couple days a week, and now I don't have the time or opportunity to do that.

Unlike others, I think photography is actually perfect for someone like you. Do you have a digital camera? If so then just make yourself one small comittment.

Start a photoblog, nothing major, just for yourself. Take one photo a day. No matter how good or bad it is, post it. Taking one photo is such a minimal committment that it won't seem like a burden. You can carry your camera on your commute, or set a timer on your phone or computer and just take one photo at the same time every day within the vicinity of your office.

It's something that will get you looking at your surroundings in a different way. I'm willing to bet that it becomes more and more exciting to you after you've stuck with it just a few days.

No photographer would ever say they don't have the opportunity to take a photo. The best pictures, in my mind, are the ones of things we see every single day, but when someone captures it just right, it suddenly imparts just a little bit of magic. It doesn't take a genius to snap a good picture of a scenic lighthouse. It's your perspective that makes you a photographer.
posted by loiseau at 12:07 AM on November 2, 2007

Do you have any interest in incorporating art into your law studies?
Story: a friend of mine really loved cooking, had a degree from a culinary school, but didn't want to be a straight-out chef. She ended up in law school. Then she got into wine law, and now she's practicing law in wine country, doing the practical thing (which she likes) within the world of wine and food.

But for actual hands-on creativity, I vote for loiseau's idea.
posted by bassjump at 7:01 AM on November 2, 2007

art and creativity aren't limited to white walls in galleries or the push button on your camera-- to get a little dose of creativity in your every day, try something like picking a random number from keri smith's 100 creative ideas (you can even click on the pdf link at the bottom to print out a grid of the ideas, cut them up and pull, them out of a hat!) or taking a continuing education class at your local college to learn a new art skill.
posted by boygirlparty at 6:45 PM on November 4, 2007

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