VIRUS - Danny Rolph’s guide to being a sustainable artist


We were fortunate enough to have the artist Danny Rolph visit us at UCA on 26th February, giving us an artist's talk as well as individual tutorials. As a very successful painter himself (his biography makes impressive reading), Danny's advice on how to be a sustainable artist struck a chord with me.

To have a sustainable practice, an artist needs VIRUS:

  1. Vision

  2. Integrity

  3. Resilience

  4. Understanding

  5. Stubbornness

As someone who knows that art is what I want to, no need to do, I find myself expending so much time and energy on questioning my decision to pursue art. Before I even get to the studio, my mind is filled with questions and doubts:

Am I good enough? What could I possibly have to say? Why would anyone else want to see my work? What is the point of art? How can I earn a living making art? Will I have to go back to my previous career in order to make a living? How can I forge an artistic career with three young boys? Motherhood is more important that my artistic career. Motherhood is suffocating my creativity. My artistic career is a luxury and not as important as a career that earns money.

Yesterday Danny Rolph gave me some hope. He gave me hope that I can make art my career. That if you stick to your guns as an artist, don't sell out (or if you do, do it under a different name!), keep working, keep reading, keep researching, keep drawing, keep painting, never give up, then there is hope.

Instead of dismissing art career opportunities out of hand, because I am a mother of three kids, because my eldest is autistic, because, because, because..... There are so many reasons to choose not to do something. What if I choose to act instead? I can apply for residencies, I can talk to other artists, I can keep coming back to my own vision as an artist and continue to produce work. I can be true to my core driver - it is and always has been to create.

Thank you @dannyrolph14 for reminding me of why I chose art in the first place.