Today on my train ride home, I overheard two 20-somethings talking. One said to the other, “oh, you know, he’s totally one of those artist-types.”
I knew exactly what she was describing.
One of those artist-types, complete with ripped jeans, dingy loft, aloof attitude, and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He can probably be found smoking outside his art school building, or deep in discussion over whether a painting is post-modern, or post- post- modern. And he’s almost always late, because he just “had to get something down on paper.”
It’s taken me some time to come to terms with the fact that I’m an artist. After all, this stereotype (maybe in a slightly watered-down version) is everywhere. And it doesn’t help that there actually are a good number of art students who hang out on corners of my neighborhood smoking, and discussing the post-modern influences in their work.
I’m not saying that those types of artists don’t exist and that they’re not very good at producing their art. But I am saying that we’re not all that way.
You want proof? Here are a few of my least “artist-like” qualities:
• My favorite class in high school was calculus
• I’ve smoked only one cigarette in my life. It was awful, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t make me look cool
• My apartment is impeccably neat and tidy
• I’ve never had a fit of rage, or locked myself in a studio for a 48-hour-long painting binge
• I have a minor obsession with getting A’s, even when it doesn’t really matter
• I love cheesy hallmark cards
• I tend to fall asleep in movies with subtitles
• I once knew the difference between Renaissance art and Neoclassic art, but I’ve definitely forgotten by now
• I spend more time than I’d care to admit looking at pictures of puppies online
It’s easy for me to see how ridiculous the artist stereotype is, since it gets right up close and personal. But it got me thinking…do I sub-consciously accept stereotypes about other professions while rejecting the one about my own? How much do I really know about what it’s like to be a fire fighter, a librarian, a sales manager, or a kindergarten teacher? I’ll have to give this some thought as soon as I finish looking at a few more pictures of puppies…
What stereotype are you supposed to fit, and just how ridiculous (or true) is it?