This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
It was a point of decision. Should I turn right or continue straight ahead? I had reached a crossroads. En route to a remote area in Southeastern Arizona, I was travelling through Silver City, New Mexico. Just outside Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, I was faced with the decision to stay on the more travelled major roads or take a less travelled road.
The main roads – the well travelled roads – have a total mileage of 136 miles with about a 2 ½ hour drive time. The smaller, less travelled road has a total mileage of about 88 miles with a 2 ½ hour drive time. I chose the latter.
This drive was narrow, winding over mountains and canyons. The hairpin turns were many and frequent. On such a road, my average speed was about 25 miles an hour with several curves as slow as 10 mph. This country is open range, so there were also several areas with cattle on the road.
But for me, the decision was well worth it. The scenery was spectacular and breathtaking. The drive was much more interesting. And I only saw one other vehicle the entire time.
Your art career has a similar parallel.
Let’s define the destination as whatever success means to you. There comes a time in your career where you reach the crossroads. You must make the decision of which road to take. Either way, the amount of time to reach the destination will be about the same. Do you take the road that everyone else is taking? Do you take the easy, less adventurous road? Do you travel the interstate?
Or do you set off on your own, taking the back roads? Do you take the road less travelled? On this road there will be fewer artists. But there will be obstacles. The travel may seem slow with many turns. But on this road there is excitement. There is exploration. There is adventure. And the view is spectacular.
Either way, you will likely reach your destination at about the same time – give or take a bit. But the experience along the way will be vastly different.
Don’t Wander Off Too Soon
My journey began just north of Fort Collins, Colorado – several hundred miles to the north. I took the interstate the entire way. It was only when I reached Truth or Consequences, did I set out off the beaten path. Had I taken the back roads from the beginning, my arrival time would have been delayed by several hours or even days.
Your career is similar. If you set out too soon, you may delay reaching your goal of success. If, however, you have no destination in mind and you wish to explore, then by all means, set off on your journey wandering to and fro. But if you do have a goal in mind, if there is a destination you wish to reach, if you want to find success in art, then you must travel a well charted course until the Truth or Consequences crossroads.
What is That Course?
It is learning your craft. Developing your skills up to a certain level of proficiency. It means study and practice. Learn the fundamentals. Learn the rules. Intimately learn your medium and subject of choice. Once you do, you will be at the crossroads where either route will get you to success in relatively the same amount of time.
I began my trip in Northern Colorado. Some may begin their trip even further away, say Billings, Montana. Others will begin their trip much closer to their destination, maybe Colorado Springs or Santa Fe. A few might even begin their journey near the crossroads.
Very few are so fortunate in their artistic journey to begin so close to the crossroads. Most of us start further away. Wherever you begin, you will know when you reach the crossroads. You will have confidence in your abilities, but you will have a strong urge to set off and not follow the road that everyone else is taking.
Many Fear the Less Travelled Road
To some, the winding and turning and slow speeds with many drop-offs are too scary. Too worried about getting into a crash, they don’t even see the beautiful scenery. This road is anything but enjoyable to these folk. Some artists likewise will only feel secure on the main roads.
Many Find Boredom with the Interstate
For others, only the excitement of discovery and solitude bring fulfillment and satisfaction. The well travelled road with hundreds of other travelers brings no excitement. Everything is predictable and mundane. These artists must get off the interstate.
Which type of artist are you? Have you reached your crossroads yet?