“If You Don’t Have Doubts, You Should Give up Being an Artist”

Before we had the COVID-19 pandemic and the career of an artist became even more precarious, I spoke to artists from three different disciplines for an episode of Overinformed to ask what it took for them to get where they are today. I spoke to an Iranian experimental filmmaker, an upcoming visual artist and a street artist who has made headlines.

During the discussion, the feeling of doubt came up. Whether it be in your ability to do the work, the work itself or how you can ever support yourself with the work. Roubezh Rashidi, from the Experimental Film Society, provided piercing clarity of the role of doubt in an artist: “If you don’t have doubts, you should give up being an artist, I mean the whole idea of doubt is what pushes you to create things. If you are certain about things, if you know exactly what it is then what’s the point?”

There can be a degree of doubt that can be debilitating. This is perhaps where funding for the arts, being it philanthropic or state sponsored comes in but Joe Caslin, the street artist who created the mural on Georges Street during the Marriage Equality referendum of 2016 has found sometimes the funding process can get in the way.

“Sometimes it’s nice to get funding but other times you don’t want it because it might be a compromise. A lot of the stuff that you make is of the now. You are creating something that is going to comment on the society that we live in now and it’s a moment that you are trying to capture. You can’t put in a funding plan thats going to take 9 months to go in. That reality isn’t my reality. You have to kind of dance and move around it and see what works for you and sometimes you do come across a project that might work…”

Amanda Doran, who since graduation has exhibited in London, Dublin, Milan among other places, has found that maybe picking up a survival job isn’t the worse thing you can do for yourself. “As soon as I graduated, I was very lucky that I was showing quite regularly but just because you’re showing doesn’t always mean that you are generating money but you have to reach a point where thats ok.”

“That doesn’t measure your success and sometimes thats a struggle. Sometimes it takes a while to say, ‘am I really successful because I have a day job?’ I’m not doing full time what I want to do but its about how creatively you make your money. I think once you let go of that and let that flow in, as in you can make money from any kind of source, its a kind of funny little part of the practice and its almost like, your funny little comic strip observation of your daily life around making art and becomes a part of it and it becomes important.”

Listen to the full conversation and insights from a cultural policy lecturer and a creative coach as part of the Overinformed episode, “What is the business of being an artist?