Questions from young artists, Part 8 of 10

Watercolor demo for kūpuna art program at Palama Settlement

Question 22: Was it hard to be an artist?

I canʻt lie, I would say yes.

But that shouldnʻt be a reason to discourage you from being one. Iʻve written in earlier posts about the disadvantages I had. In high school, a classmate and recognized talent, Ben Dale had a father who worked as a graphic designer. He had access to people who could tell him about other paths and jobs that would allow him to become an artist. He was also a guy and Jewish so he fit the image of the guy with a beret and mustache better than I did. He went to art school as I did and studied in New York, eventually graduating and becoming a teacher. Each generation in America has opened doors for the next, and for young artists today, there are even more opportunities. You can have your own role model as an Persian or Vietnamese female comic artist, a Chinese or Korean American director, a Samoan or Mexican movie star. There are really all colors and genders out there now and many more outlets for creative work than there were 30 years ago.

So, read and watch classics, learn to draw and write well and everything else you can learn along the way. If you love film learn to shoot and light and edit and all the aspects you can about filmmaking and you will find your niche. If you love anime, learn the programs and how to render with markers so you can make your stories and concept drawings come to life.

And donʻt tell yourself it is too late, my students are kūpuna in their 70s and 80s just learning watercolor now. And they are better than their kids and grandkids. So start now.

Question 23: Are you a good artist?

I think I am but only time will tell. I can only do my best work and keep honing it. I take care of the quantity and am willing to do the work, God will open the doors and prepare me for when it does.

Question 24: What was life like in Sweden?

Life in Sweden was great. It wasnʻt easy in the beginning, being a foreigner, not knowing how things worked, being judged ʻas less thanʻ because of how I looked and sounded. Learning the language, making Swedish friends, learning her customs and appreciating her food made it eventually my home. All of us who started over in a new country go through this, as immigrants we bring our old country inside us but we also need to find a way to put down roots to make our new location our home. Otherwise, without roots, or the language, you will never feel at ease and canʻt enjoy life there.

No matter where your education or work takes you, donʻt be afraid to go! Your family and friends will still love you and welcome you back. If they donʻt remember you when you return, they probably wouldnʻt have noticed if you came or left. Wherever you go, be humble and proud. Humble enough to be open to try new things, hear new things, see new things. Proud enough to know who you are and where you come from. I never apologized for my SPAM can I had in my emergency stash of food. I never refused to try a new food, just a bite wonʻt kill anyone.

Sweden is a beautiful country and God is there just as much as He is anywhere else or Hawaii.