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Updated: Aug 19, 2021

There exists this impression out there amongst people in general and also even amongst many artists that creatives should not be organized. That to be a true artist one should be a bit (or a lot) unorganized, somewhat all over the place, untidy.

Non-artists probably get this impression from movies, books or television where artists are often depicted as somewhat wired to the moon, eccentric and not like “normal” people. Of course, they also get this from many artists who in fact are somewhat wired to the moon, eccentric and not like “normal” people. That’s understandable... the art world is a bit smoke and mirrors, image driven, out there and pandering to moneyed clients and Suits who insist that artist should be like that. It suits the Suits who control the art world to perpetuate this idea, because it’s easier to control and manipulate this type of person.

Long story short, let’s have a look at why it may not too bad an idea to try and organize your working life to some degree.

Why is it acceptable to spend hours looking for your number 10 brush or pencil sharpener amongst the chaos that is your studio? To try and find that business card of the gallery owner who showed interest in your work? To discover, in the middle of a painting, that your burnt umber which ran out last week has not been replaced? Why is it fun to try and paint on a tiny corner of your cluttered work table? That your easel is also a clothes rack?

O yes, I hear the indignant cries go up that you like the “organized chaos”. That, should you tidy your studio, you won’t be able to find anything. That organizing your art life is “too left-brain” and thus not conducive to creativity. In the words of the late

Tim Robson - a watercolourist, and my mentor - poppycock!

Question whether this is perhaps just you trying to look “arty”. That you’re just being economical with hard work. That you think you do not have the time to tidy up and organize your business because you think it takes time away from actually making art.

Here is the inconvenient truth. If you do not organize yourself, do not clean up, remain in a state of chaos, you’re in fact wasting time, not saving any. You’re making yourself inefficient and unprofessional. No-one likes dirt. No-one enjoys searching for things. There’s no artist that produces better work from a state of chaos. No client likes dealing with someone who has lost a quote or can’t find his phone number.

We as artists do not need the stereotypes that have been assigned to us. We fall into a trap set by Business Art Incorporated. We become the sniggered-at, cartoon depiction of what we really should be - creatives who are capable of being professional, together and competent in all facets of what we do.

Come on guys, get out that feather duster, chuck out all the rubbish, arrange your brushes, take stock of your paints, file that paperwork. It’s not that difficult. But for heaven’s sake... don’t overdo it either. Cleanliness might be next to Godliness but who wants to paint in a hospital?

Johan Brink © May 2021

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