Tirtzah Bassel : Visual Artist : 055 : Transcript

Tirtzah Bassel Transcript

Please enjoy the transcript of Episode 055 with visual artist, Tirtzah Bassel.

Born and raised in Israel, going into college Tirtzah was planning on becoming a social worker.

During a heightened period of terrorism in Israel, Tirtzah took on a new perspective of how she wanted to spend her time on Earth.

Tirtzah now works as a visual artist based in Brooklyn who has developed her own form of painting using duck tape and has her New York oil painting exhibit debut opening this week through May 10th at Slag Gallery in Bushwick.

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‘Trader Joe’s’

You’ll hear Tirtzah discuss her journey to becoming a professional artistthe importance of community, and that the time you spend waiting to be inspired is time you could use to do work you love:

“The trick always seems to be to switch from being inside your fear and finding something to do – even if it’s a small step.” – Tirtzah Bassel

Tirtzah: Hi, this is Tirtzah Bassel. I’m a visual artist, and you’re listening to Prologue Profiles.

[Intro Music]

Tirtzah: Ah, very nerdy.  You know, I would always do my homework.  I didn’t want to get in trouble.  I wanted the teacher to like me.

Dan: We call that a ‘goody-two-shoes’.

Tirtzah: A ‘goody-two-shoes’, is that different than nerdy?

Dan: Nerdy…they’re related. 

Tirtzah: They’re related, but they don’t overlap entirely.

Dan: Nerdy…they don’t really have to do well in school. 

Tirtzah: Oh!

Dan: And nerdy doesn’t care as much about what like authority thinks either. 

Tirtzah: That is the new nerd!  That’s like the nerd today, right?

Dan: Maybe nerd has evolved a bit. 

Tirtzah: Because nerd has become cool.

Dan: And Tirtzah you have become cool and now you are a professional  fine artist. 

Tirtzah: Correct.

Dan: [Laughs] Sweet! Got it. [Tirtzah laughs]  So, for those who don’t know, how would you describe your work? 

Tirtzah: In terms of mediums, I’m trained in oil painting. And more recently in the past two or three years, I’ve also been creating large-scale duct tape installations.

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‘Stop and Frisk’

Dan: So you say, ‘duct tape installations’ like it is no big deal. [Laughter] Like, “Yea, this is what I do.” 

Tirtzah: Doesn’t everyone make duct tape installations?

Dan: And we say duct tape, it’s not like blue, monochromatic…there’s colors involved here. 

Tirtzah: Right – So you find out when you start working with duct tape that there are many different colors to duct tape and the truth is that I don’t only use duct tape.  I also use gaffer’s tape and painter’s tape and kind of any tape

Dan: Trade secrets here. 

Tirtzah: [Laughs] that I can find that’ll stick to the wall.

Subject matter, where do I start? I guess I’m interested in intimacy that takes place in public spaces – between strangers. So, airport security pat-downs.

One of my starting points is to look physically when do people touch? And also emotionally or psychologically how do people create a situation for themselves where they can experience intimacy or meaning in all of these places that we’re in all the time that are sort of devoid of meaning.  Like supermarkets or subway stations.

Dan: And where is your studio based?

Tirtzah: My studio is in the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.  A great, amazing, old army building.

Dan: You have an exhibition coming up this month. 

Tirtzah: Correct.  So this exhibition will be at Slag Gallery in Bushwick.  It’s the first time I’m showing a full body of work of paintings, here in New York.  All my previous exhibitions in New York were duct tape. [Laughter]

Dan: Well congratulations.  How do you feel about it? 

Tirtzah: I’m very excited.

Dan: So are you doing this full-time? 

Tirtzah: Three quarters time. I teach as well, so I split my time between teaching a few regular classes and workshops here and there and in the studio.

Dan: So Tirtzah, let’s talk about how you got here.  What was the path you took to becoming a professional artist? 

Tirtzah: It’s funny.  It’s the kind of thing that when you look back it seems like there was a path but as you’re going through it, some things are clear and some things really aren’t clear at all.

Dan: [Laughs] Oh…

Tirtzah: They’re only clear in hindsight.  That’s just my way of introduction.

Dan: I take my question back then.  Never mind. [Laughter]

Tirtzah: I was always interested in art and I come from a family of makers.  My dad is actually a scribe and he makes a living off of writing ancient Torah scrolls.  My mother had been a ballet dancer before I was born.

In school I actually didn’t have any art classes.  My dad taught me how to draw a little bit.

I also didn’t know any artists.  The only artists I knew were or I came across were either crazy or amateur.  [Laughter]

So growing up I didn’t think I would be an artist when I would grow up.  I just didn’t have an image of someone who did that to make a living or as a profession.

Dan: Did you have an idea of something that you would be? 

Tirtzah: So at the beginning I actually went on a track to study social work.  So this was right after my national service, when I was maybe 19, so I had been working with kids in Ashkelon, which is a small town on the coast of Israel, kids who had been removed from their home and were living in a certain institution. So I lived with them and did some education work.

And it was a very powerful experience.  It was very difficult.  It kind of burst my little bubble that I had grown up in.

But I also felt very enriched by that experience, inspired.  Like I felt like I was really having some kind of impact on peoples’ lives.

So I was basically on that track.

I signed up for university to study social work. So that was like the logical progression.

Dan: And you went to study at Hebrew University in 2000, but you had also decided to take a drawing class at night.  

Tirtzah: I had a month before school started and I had this idea that I would take a drawing class because I had always wanted to take a drawing class.

So I randomly signed up for this figure drawing class.

And I had this kind of Harry Potter moment, I think, and I remember walking into that studio and there was all the easels set up, and it had the charcoal, and the paper, and the model came out, it was the first time I had drawn a model.

And I started drawing and it just kind of felt like transfixed.  Like, “Yea, this is my world.” Like, “This is…Yea! This is what I was meant to do!” kind of thing [Laughs].

And also I met a bunch of people who were artists.  Who were serious people, really engaged in the world, really passionate about art. Some of the teachers were older and they had lives, they had families.

So I suddenly had this image of what it could be like to be an artist.  It wasn’t only crazy people or amateur.  Here were really serious people who had built their whole lives on these careers so it started to become a possible reality.

The other thing that was going on at that time in Jerusalem was the Second Intifada.

There was heightened conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

Part of what was going on were a lot of terror attacks in the cities.  Mostly in Jerusalem where I was living.

A lot of them took place on buses, so, you know, the bus that I would take to school, um, blew up multiple times – thankfully not when I was on the bus – but these were close encounters and they were frequent.

And I think during that year at university there was a heightened sense, for me, of my mortality.

I think I reached this point where I was kind of like, “Well what do I want to do? Because I might not be around in six months.  So I’d like to spend those six months doing what I really want to do.”

On the one hand, I was registered for university, I was on this path to become a social worker – which felt like a meaningful thing to do and also a logical thing to do to get a degree and to have a profession.

And at the same time these night classes that were sort of drawing out this passion, there was this real sense of being very alive and touching something important.

But it still seemed like a crazy thing to do. [Laughter]

Dan: Yea.

Tirtzah: To go be an artist.

But there was a moment during that year, and I remember it as being related to a particular terror attack that happened that sort of just hit me like, “I have to make a decision.  I have to go for whatever is going to feel meaningful.  Because I didn’t know if I had time to go and study social work and be a social worker and then, in ten years time, become an artist.”

Like, “I have to do this now.”

So I made that decision, at the end of the year that I was going to leave university and go study…art! [Laughs]

Dan: So you dropped out of university to study art at the Jerusalem Studio School.  What did people think of your decision? 

Tirtzah: Within the world that I grew up in it was unheard of. Like, as I said I didn’t know any other artists.

I mean in Israel I would say people aren’t as rigid as they are here about career trajectories, so a lot of people will spend time after the army traveling for a few years, or just working random jobs and getting experience in different things.  So it wasn’t so crazy that I was going to go and study art for a little while, but I did find myself making a whole new set of friends who were artists.

And I still feel that that’s one of the most crucial things you need as an artist is a community of other people who are artists.

Otherwise you can come to feel crazy in a world of people who have [Laughs] like regular jobs and regular career goals.

If you don’t have other artist friends who anchor you in what an artist’s life could be, you could think that you are crazy.  [Laughter]

Dan: Were you focusing on making money from your art at that point?

Tirtzah: I made a very intentional decision when I decided to become a painter not to count on my work as my main source of income.

And I did that because I wanted to have the time to develop my work without the pressure of the market.

And I had a teacher, Israel Hershberg, who said to me something like, “You have to paint for 10 or 15 years until you hit your stride”.

Dan: Oh wow.

Tirtzah: I also remember him saying that “You have to paint a few kilometers of canvas before you make your first painting.”

And that was an image.  That was like, “Okay, this is serious.  This is…” Like, “I have to get to work.”

Dan: So what’d you do after art school?

Tirtzah: What I did was I basically figured out…you know I got a little apartment with a roommate in south Tel Aviv, in an area which at that time was very cheap.  It’s since become pretty gentrified, but when we moved in there was a brothel on the bottom floor [Laughs], which we just thought…

Dan: That’s a sign.

Tirtzah: You know it was cool, right…

Dan: I’m not sure what the sign is but yeah.

Tirtzah: You know the way I could pull it off was by having an extra room in my apartment as my studio.  And I worked it out so that I taught a few days a week – I worked on certain educational programs…

Basically my calculation was always: How can I work minimum number of hours to make like maximum amount of money that’ll allow me to be in the studio as many days a month as possible?

Dan: And you started to develop your own artistic style. 

Tirtzah: You know you learn with a certain teacher, so generally you take on a certain style that the teacher uses and you might spend a lot of time on the same subject matter that they spent.  That’s the natural way,  that’s how you learn through how your teacher learned.

But I had a clear sense of, “Okay now I have to figure out where am I in that? Where do I take these tools?  What am I really interested in looking at and doing with these tools?”

Dan: So what’d you do to that? 

Tirtzah: When I moved to Tel Aviv, I remember going on a lot of walks and just looking.  Being like, “Okay, what’s here that I never would have painted at school that my teacher would never have painted?”

And it would be these weird scenes, like just a weird person that I saw on the beach or a painting that I did of, you know…

Dan: [Laughs] “I call this, ‘Weird Person.'” 

Tirtzah: Or, I remember, like there were all these mini-dramas in my neighborhood,  like a bunch of cops arresting a guy, which technically was very hard for me to figure out how to paint because I was used to only painting a model that would sit still for six hours while I drew them.  So I had to figure out how do I paint this thing from memory.  That was a skill to master.

Dunkin Donuts iPad sketch
‘Dunkin Donuts’ iPad sketch

Dan: How’d you do that? 

Tirtzah: I made, you know, a lot of sketches.  You know, I just kept doing it until I hit something and a friend saw it and was like, “Yeah, that’s like an Israeli policeman in south Tel Aviv.” [Laughs] Like there was a certain pose there or whatever.

So yeah, it was kind of trying to have these new eyes to look at the world and ask myself, fresh, like, “What’s really interesting to me to paint?”

Dan: And in 2006 you had your first gallery show in Tel Aviv.  What was that like? 

Tirtzah: There’s the whole process I’m describing to you of that’s very internal of like figuring out what I want to paint it and how I want to paint it and working for many, many months on your own in the studio.

And then there comes a moment where you put it out into the world.

And on the one hand, it’s what you’ve been working for.  On the other hand it’s terrifying. Because it is kind of like putting your guts out to the world and being like, “What do you guys think about this?”

Dan: [Laughs] “So!…”

Tirtzah: And I remember that feeling of being very excited but very vulnerable.

It was exciting and there was a very positive response and it was one of my first experiences of feeling like, “Oh, people are excited by what I’m showing them!”

Dan: So living as an artist in Tel Aviv how were you able to keep going?

Tirtzah: Part of me just had this audacious feeling like, “I have to do this.”

It wasn’t even like, “Is this going to be good or not?”  It was just like, “I’m doing this.” [Laughs]

“And it’s gonna work out somehow and eventually I’ll hit something”.

And really I was willing to go for a long time without knowing what that thing was or what it would look like.

I just had these feelings like, “I’m drawing and I feel alive.”  “Okay, that’s a good thing.  I’m going to drop out of school and go do that thing.”

And at the same time I was making my rent and I was making a living so it wasn’t like a crazy, like we’re jumping off a cliff.  But it wasn’t, “I know what’s going to happen in ten years.”  It was like I’ve figured out how I’m going to do the next three or four months.  And then in three or four months I’ll figure it out again.

Dan: And in 2008, you decided to leave Israel. 

Tirtzah: I had reached a point where I felt like I wanted to see the world. I wanted to be in a more international setting.  I wanted to go beyond Tel Aviv.

I also felt that I wanted to have direct access to contemporary art as it’s happening.  So I didn’t want to just read about it in a magazine or see it on the internet.  When William Kentridge makes his next piece I wanna see it!

Dan: Who’s that?

Tirtzah: [Laughs] He’s one of my favorite artists and there’s an amazing installation of his at the Metropolitan Museum right now!

Dan: Oh so we could actually go and see him! 

Tirtzah: So I started to look, would I move to Europe or the United States and I realized it was important to me, again, to be in a community of artists.

And I felt that I was a little bit beyond the point in my life where I wanted to just go to New York and waitress and like see what happened. And I wanted to sort of land in a more of like an intentional fashion, I guess.

I realized that a lot of the things I was looking for in a next stage would be encapsulated in a Master’s program.

Dan: Why’s that? 

Tirtzah: It would be an automatic community of artists.  It would be an immediate context to make art in. Like I could land and be making art.

Dan: And in 2010, you finished school and you moved to New York.  How were you able to make things happen for yourself? 

Tirtzah: Basically, my goals were, again, to set up a studio, to have teaching jobs that allowed me to be in the studio a maximum amount of time and to just get to know people.  So go to a lot of openings.  A lot of art events.

Meet a lot of artists, artists know other artists, artists know galleries, artists know curators.

So, there was like no short-cut.

Like that was the strategy and just keep exposing myself to people and inviting people over for studio visits.  So really all the different shows were through connections.

Dan: You recently had an installation in El Paso.  How’d that come about? 

Tirtzah: So last March I participated in an international Jewish artists retreat, which is called Asylum. It took place in upstate New York, it was a great, a really fun retreat with about seventy artists from all over the world.

Dan: So what does that mean, a retreat? 

Tirtzah: Three days in a beautiful location, I think it was a monastery, in upstate New York.

Dan: It means paradise, Dan. 

Tirtzah: This one had a strong emphasis on providing artists with professional development. As artists we’re entrepreneurs, we’re like small business owners.  But when we go to art school they only teach us about art.  Not very much about business.   So this was a great opportunity in that we had people coming in and teaching us how to plan our life financially or how to deal with legal issues that might come up.

And along with all these new skills I met all these great people and of course we shared our work.

Peter Svarzbein is an artist who is now based in Texas.  He had seen my work which was about airport security.

Dan: Where was that?

Tirtzah: It was shown at the Chashama 461 Gallery in Harlem.

So he saw images from that.  He really liked my work and he made this connection between the airport and the border, you know, between El Paso and Juarez, and his larger project that he’s working on there to revitalize downtown El Paso and he said, “Would you come down and do a project?”  I said, “Yea!” [Laughs].

So I went down there and spent some time just learning about the border, the border town, what it means to live in that area on both sides of the border, spoke with people, listened to some of their stories…

…and some of those images fed into what became a large duct tape installation in a storefront in downtown El Paso, which is actually at street level so people, art people could come, but any random person on the street could come in.

And the images were about the border, about people who have to deal with the border every day.  So what does it actually look like, physically, to cross that bridge?  To deal with the security?

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2013-05-18 23.26.25

Dan: And so how do you start making money from your work, from your pieces? 

Tirtzah: Great collectors are people who, they want to support your work. You know, they’re buying your work because they maybe want to hang your painting or your duct tape piece in their living room or in their office, but they also believe in you, as an artist and career, and often they’ll follow you.

So that’s been my experience where some people maybe met me at one point and didn’t buy work, actually at first.  Just were kind of curious and said, “Oh that looks interesting”. And then saw me again in another show and then saw me again at another show, and they were like, “We want to support her.”

Dan: So is the studio you’re in now part of some affiliation, some organization? 

Tirtzah: So I have a studio that is part of the Chashama Artist Residency.  Chashama is this non-profit organization that basically takes commercial real estate that’s sitting vacant for whatever reason, gets a long-term lease, divides it up into studio spaces and rents it to artists for very cheap.

So, since I’ve moved to New York I’ve been very fortunate to have one of their studios.

Dan: How’d you find them?

Tirtzah: Through a friend, so a friend knew about them because of a project that she’d worked on with them and she said, “They have this studio thing going and you should check it out”.  So I did! [Laughter]

Dan: So what’s a typical day like for you?

Tirtzah: So a studio day – because I have my teaching days and my studio days – my studio day I’ll get up at about 7am,  I drink coffee.  That’s a very important part.

Dan: Confession. [Laughter]

Tirtzah: And then I’ll eat some breakfast,  head over to the studio, so I’d like to be at the studio at 8:30 or 9 o’clock.

Sometimes on the way to the studio I’ll just notice people, like a guy carrying a sack of laundry to the laundromat or just a person on the street.

Dan: You’re looking for weird people again.

Tirtzah: I’m always looking for weird people…

So I get to the studio and kind of make a sketch from memory of that weird scene that just sort of gets something down.  Like gets something out quick, before I even start thinking.

And those three hours in the morning are really like my best hours.

So I’ll usually put them into a large painting that I’m working on or if I’m starting a painting usually that’s when I’ll start a painting and just put like three hours of solid work.  Stop for lunch…and more coffee, importantly. [Laughter] And then have another two-three hours in the afternoon, like of solid work.

I hardly ever go back to what I did in the morning.  It’s a bad idea for me to go back to what I did in the morning.

Dan: Really?

Tirtzah: It’s good for me to just work on something else. So either start another painting or work on another painting and then, you know, wrap up, walk home, have some dinner, [Laughs] check my email, watch a movie…

Dan: Fade out. 

Tirtzah: [Laughs] Fade out, exactly.

Dan: What would you say you love about what you do?

Tirtzah: I love having a profession where I can think through making, through doing.

So it’s about these ideas, like whatever my subject matter is, but it’s also about the paint being like gooey and red and drippy and playing with it and splashing it and pouring it all over the studio and, you know, I get to do that stuff! [Laughter]  And that’s my profession. [Laughs]

Dan: What would you say you dislike about what you do?

Tirtzah: It’s hard to have so much of your time spent on your own. And I seek out places to meet people.

I mean so I have teaching, which actually I think is important to me, partially because that is where I interact with other people, but you know at the end of that long studio day when I’m essentially on my own, you know there other artist studios around, so I might bump into someone and chat a little bit, but I’m really in my own head all day.  I get home and I’m like babbling.  [Laughter]

Or I’ll go out in the evening with friends or to an opening and really feel like, “Ah it’s really good to be with people.”

Actually when I do the installations they’re more collaborative, because I need to work with a team to set up the space and it’s a sharp contrast to the studio and it’s really fun.

Dan: So what is it about you that’s allowed you to get to where you are now, would you say?

Tirtzah: [Laughs] Uh being crazy enough to think that I could do this.

Being disciplined. Even when you weeks and weeks of not really understanding what you’re doing in the studio and it feels, actually like you have no idea what you’re doing in the studio and it’s all bullshit.  Like, “This is crap.  I’m making more crap.” Like, “I set up my whole life and I don’t have a profession in order to be in the studio and I’m in the studio and I don’t know what’s going on in the studio.”  Like there is a lot of that.

So the thing that you need there is this kind of perseverance and the discipline to go to the studio day after day when things aren’t working out.  Because eventually you’ll figure it out, but you don’t know that.  It always feel like you don’t know that. [Laughter]

Dan: Always.

Tirtzah: Even if you kind of know, like, “All right, after a month or two like something’s gonna happen.”

Dan: Do you have a vision for where do you want to take things in the future?

Tirtzah: I’d like to do installations in places that touch political nerves.

So that…

Dan: You wanna go there.

Tirtzah: I want to go there. [Laughs]  I’d like to do a piece in Israel, also about borders, and that could mean public transportation, like the buses that were bombed during terror attacks.

And in painting I want to continue to develop this kind of subject matter, like these commonplace situations, like the supermarket or IKEA.

Dan: Are you gonna work at IKEA? 

Tirtzah: So when you come to my opening you’ll see that there are a bunch of paintings in this show about IKEA.

Dan: Oh, sweet.  Which one did you go to?

Tirtzah: Uh Brooklyn.

Dan: Ok. I was hoping for a Jersey shout out somehow.  No, okay. Keep fishin’. 

Tirtzah: [Laughs] Not this time.

Dan: So what would you say inspires you?

Tirtzah: I’ve looked a lot at painters from the early Renaissance, Italian Renaissance.

Dan: What are some names? 

Tirtzah: Very early Italian Renaissance: Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Masaccio.

Specifically the reason I got interested in them is because I saw frescos of their works, cycles of frescos, in the churches that they painted them in.  And up until then I had only seen paintings in a museum or a gallery and it was very different to see it in a church or like a space that the painting had been made for that space.

And if in the painting you see a building, it is like an extension of the architecture of the church that you’re seeing it in.  So the painting and the space  are working together to create an immersive experience.

So I saw that a long time ago, but it really stuck with me, I had a very strong experience there and I thought,  “I want to do this.  I want to make paintings or images that are part of the space.”  And I never guessed that duct tape would be the way for me to do that.

Dan: How did you get into using duct tape?

Tirtzah: My friend challenged me to recreate an image that I had in a material that I’d never used before. So it was sort of, like a part of that challenge.  I picked up duct tape in my studio and I just started playing around with it.  And I was like, “Ah, this stuff is amazing!”  So I started using it.

Dan: And who are some current painters that are inspiring you? 

Tirtzah: There’s a lot of great art going on now in Brooklyn or that’s being shown in Brooklyn.

Dan: Really?

Tirtzah: Interestingly, some by young artists and some by older artists that seem like younger than the younger artists.

So I’m like a big fan of Katherine Bradford. She’s a painter who’s showing her work a lot.

David Hockney, he’s a really well known figurative painter.  He also paints people in day-to-day situations, like couples in their house, or a person taking a shower and things like that.  So I’ve also been very inspired by him.

Dan: And what fears do you have?

Tirtzah: What do you mean?  I’m invincible.  I have no fears. [Laughter]

Dan: Oh. All right, next question… 

Tirtzah: It’s the anxiety that you never let go of, like, “Will I continue to be able to make it?” In a sense of like, “Will I be able to make a living, either selling my work or doing whatever else, and be able to support the studio practice?”  That long term, like that’s just kind of always there.

To me at least it never feels like, “Oh, I’ve arrived.”  Like, “Ok this will work from now on.”  It’s always building the next step of how that’s gonna work.

Dan: Is there a dialogue that goes on with that fear?  Like is there something that you tell yourself? 

Tirtzah: Well it plays out in different ways. So there’s the like, “Shit, I don’t know what I’m doing.  How’s this ever going to work? Blahblahblah.” Like there’s that like waking up in the morning just like sheer terror like, “How am I going to get through the day?”

And then it’s just like go to the studio.  That’s your job.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to paint.  That’s your job.  You’re a painter.  Go to the studio and make something.

Which sounds simple, but it isn’t. [Laughter]

The trick always seems to be to switch from being inside your fear and finding something to do, even if it’s a small step.  That will be a practical bridge to like…like something will happen once you do something.

Dan: So Tirtzah, what advice would you give to someone who sees what you’re doing, and is wondering if it’s possible for them? 

Tirtzah: Um I can’t say.  I can’t give them an answer.  And actually I remember very clearly that one of my teachers when I first, where I was like actually considering studying painting… and he was like, “I cannot recommend this.  It’s gonna be a really hard life.” [Laughs]

And he said it seriously, like there were people around and people joked about it, but it was really a serious thing that he said to me. Like, “This is not simple.”

So I mean part of me is like that.  Like you have to really have a sense that you want to do it, because otherwise it’s not worth it.  Like there are plenty of other things that you can do – not only to make money, but also to be like a fulfilled human being.

But if you have this crazy bug or whatever, and you really think, “This is what I need to do.”  Then you have to be…you have to set up the best situation for yourself.

And I think that there are a few things that I can point to you that you need:

You need a community of artists – and you need to find them –  and they have to be real.  They can’t just be any artists.  They have to be artists that you really connect with and that you can have this ongoing thing with.

I have a few artist friends who go way back.  We don’t live in the same place.  We’re in different places in our life, but I’ll call them up and talk to them about painting or about just life, because we have these struggles, like how to figure out the day-to-day. So that’s a really crucial thing to have in the long term.

For me, like this is a suggestion I would give and it’s a tough suggestion, but it would be to find other ways of supporting yourself for as long as you need to develop your own voice in your art.  So don’t put that pressure on your art, you’ll short-change yourself.

And be honest about what are your sources of inspiration.

You know you’ll connect to artists and you’ll be seduced by the things that seduce them, but you have to find your things and you have to figure out what are the best conditions for you.  Like some people work really well at 9 o’clock in the morning.  Some people work well at midnight.  And those are the things you find out because at first you usually do what everyone around you is doing.

Dan: So what if you’re like thinking about going for it but you’re like, “I’m not sure if…” Like how do you know if it’s for you or not? 

Tirtzah: Chuck Close is a very well-known painter, has this great line that I told my student today because was saying, “I’m not inspired today.  I’m not inspired.”  And I was like, “You know what?  Chuck Close has this great saying that ‘Inspiration is for amateurs.  The rest of us just show up for work every day.'”

And I’m a big believer in that.  Like set up a routine,whatever it is, if it’s 9 o’clock in the morning, 9 o’clock at night.  If you want to be really specific I think it’s like at least a three hour block of time, but preferably five, six seven hours. And do it day after day, and show up regardless of how you feel.  Week after week after week and see if you can do that.  Like can you be in the studio for that amount of time and does it become an exciting place for you to be in.

You might be doing stuff that looks like crap to everyone else for months or years.  But you’re excited to go to the studio, there’s something that’s driving you there.  Do it.  Something will happen.  [Laughs] Something will come out of that and it’ll be like nothing anyone has ever seen before.

It’ll be yours.

[Outro Music]

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