A reminder from a real artist

Alexander Landerman works on a mural in downtown Stevens Point.

“I work as much as I can every single day.”

The journalist in me struggled with writing that, because you never, ever, ever, ever, EVER lede with a quote. Ever.

But I did. I recently sat down with Stevens Point artist Alexander Landerman. I’m writing a story for my newspaper, City Pages, about his painting a mural in Stevens Point, and on his work in general. Landerman always impressed me because from his sophomore year in college he was already supporting himself as an artist.

I asked him what the key to that success was. After all, most artists struggle, right? And while he’s not rolling in the dough, he has basically been supporting himself through his work since college.

The above quote is what he told me.

I’ve been thinking about those words lately. As you know, I wrote a post some time back about why writing every day is bullshit. I got a mix of reactions, from “hell yeah” to “you suck.” It was a reaction to advice I kept seeing everywhere; that you could only be successful if you never let a day pass without putting words on a page.

I was also called a hypocrite because, through my job, I basically do that every day. It’s rare when I don’t. But I’m not working on my art every day, just writing for someone else. I’m getting daily practice, for sure (nothing helps you learn to write clean like having an editor pick apart your work daily). But it’s still not working on my own writing. Creating worlds is different than reporting on this one.

Landerman doesn’t have that day job. His art is his day job. And he sits himself down every day and gets his pencils and squares and all the other implements of drawing out and gets to work.

I still stand by my previous post. I don’t think you have to write every single day. I think most people will turn that into something self-defeating, like they do exercise (oh I missed a day in the gym, I’m a failure and I need to quit). I talked about the 80/20 rule – 80 percent is still much better than 0 percent, and more manageable. You might aim for writing most days, but if you miss a few, big deal.

Alex reminded me of the indomitable spirit an artist must possess. He’s experienced big chunks of money and periods of near starvation, and through it all, he never stops creating. It’s a part of who he is.

I’ve been channeling that spirit lately. I tend to put off editing especially because it can be a drag. The creating is the fun part. Revising can be a chore. Going through my editor’s corrections? Not my favorite thing to do.

I think my meeting with Landerman has inspired my own work, and it’s reminded me why it’s important to surround oneself with other artists.

Read The Sand Runner, out now! 


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