Friday, November 13, 2009

Artist Inspiration: The Mentor

I'm one of those people who you can always call when you're moving. I'm the guy that will show up to help when all you're other friends have bailed on you. Why? Well, as a guy who's lived in 134 different apartments in 8 different states and 2 different countries, I know that when I help someone else move, it's like putting a karmic deposit into my bank account. Because of this, I've always been blessed with friends who have helped me pack my stuff away. Luck, strategy or a good investment of time? I'm not sure.

Which is a good tie-in to the subject of mentors and mentees and the often overlooked idea that a mentor may be able to help you with your artistic career.

In the golden days of art, it was standard practice for a young artist to apprentice himself under a professional who had been working in the field for quite some time. The artist would shadow his mentor, learn the craft, hopefully pick up some business tips and then be sent out on his own. The advice, given in exchange for work, was meant to save the budding artists time and energy from learning his craft strictly through trial and error. One day in the future, as the young artist’s career blossomed, he might be expected to take on an apprentice himself, thus perpetuating the cycle. 

For instance Alessio Baldovinetti served as a mentor to Domenico Ghirlandaio who served as a mentor to Michelangelo. Williams James served as Gertrude Stein’s mentor who later served as Ernest Hemingway’s mentor. 

Having someone on your side who has created his own map of where you’d like to take your own career can save you a lot of time. From learning about someone else’s patterns of success first-hand to having someone high up in the career food chain listen to and respond to your unique questions can be invaluable. Why recreate the wheel when someone out there already has the plans for it? 

Looking for advice on your next CD project? A potential venue? In the process of finding out how to get agent? Make sure you hit Google, but think about hitting it for a potential mentor as well. Why not  partake in this tradition that is part of the very fabric our artists culture?

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