Monday Mojo: Beck Metzbower
Hello there, creative powerhouses! I’m thrilled to reinstate our regular interview series by introducing you to Beck Metzbower, a visual artist based on the US East Coast. You’re going to love Beck’s no-nonsense approach to being a fulltime working artist and reaching her goals. Find out what Beck has in common with Eleanor Roosevelt — and how she once found inspiration in a vending machine. Enjoy!
SM: Please introduce yourself.
BM: Beck Metzbower, contemporary artist.
SM: Tell us about your artwork and other creative endeavors.
BM: I make formal, highly textural work. And it’s abstract — meaning I can hide all sorts of lovely topics and statements within the work. I have a terminal master’s degree in visual art and choreography and, of course, a BFA in fine art. Both degrees were awarded by Wilson College. I exhibit nationally and internationally. I curate one yearly solo exhibit and I am so excited about a fall 2018 exhibit currently in the works.
SM: What goals do you have for your art? How would you define your “life’s work”?
BM: My career goals are very similar to anyone else’s — to expand, to create a strong brand, to accomplish several specific projects, to acquire more assets, to build a stable and working network of other creators and industry-related individuals. In addition to the exhibit scheduled for fall 2018, I’ve authored a book to be released in March of 2018. Those are two of my short-term goals in progress.
My life’s work is my entire existence and everything that comes of it. It’s the smile that existed for 10 seconds when I made someone laugh. It’s the humans I brought into this world and all their actions as a result. It’s all the art pieces and sketches and paint stains wherever I was stupid enough to paint without a drop cloth. It’s the glitter that will never, ever, ever, ever come out of my floor from my 30th birthday party. It’s each teardrop that fell when I broke someone’s heart. My life’s work will be everything that existed because I existed.
SM: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
BM: It hasn’t. But on an industry level, I now deal with the label of “mom” being slapped over my title as artist. The archaic mantra of “can mothers be artists?” is vomited all over me when people find out I am a mother. Now, as a contemporary artist I am supposed to fire back with “you wouldn’t ask a man that question!” — but maybe we should.
Maybe we should start treating father artists as we do mother artists. Perhaps we should dig deeper into the familial influences of all artists and cease questioning specific people within the industry.
Despite being a primarily childless/childfree community — reproduction and parenting still exists…however uncool it may be to others. As women who cohabitate the artist and parent role — we have to remember that we aren’t on the playground anymore, we’re in the office now. A major question being asked is, “Can women who are artists and moms be taken seriously?” Honestly, the industry is worried that I’ll get a fit of hormones and drop everything to knit doilies and breastfeed or that I’ll start making subpar work because I’m overscheduled or distracted. I hate to admit that I’ve seen some women do exactly that — quit. But I reject that path. Art isn’t something I could ever part with any more than I could my dimples or curves. And motherhood is now a part of my physical biology and daily routine. I’ve stopped defending this pairing and started embracing and honoring them.
SM: Where do you do your creative work?
BM: I have a 720–square-foot studio with these huge, beautiful industrial fans. It’s off limits to everyone. Except me.
There are no interruptions in the studio and a very specific ritual/routine that I follow to get my head in the game before I even walk through the entryway of the studio.
SM: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
BM: I schedule a 40-hour week, like most people. I pull overtime when there is a big project and I take scheduled sabbaticals/vacations.
SM: What do you struggle with most?
BM: I have what I call my “horse blinders,” a mindset that I’ve come to slip into a lot. As an artist, there is a misconception that I need or want other’s input or advice (excluding arranged critiques, obviously). Often this projection comes from a place of someone else’s insecurity or fear or sense of competition. I’ve learned to slip into this mode and let everything roll off. Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to “do that which you think you cannot” was my mantra for every disapproving comment, negative remark, and destructive criticism that I received in my emerging years. There are moments in my life when I have to become my strongest, wisest, and most fierce self. I tend to embody Eleanor Roosevelt a lot these days.
SM: Where do you find inspiration?
BM: My brain, with all its creative wiring, finds inspiration in the oddest of places. And at random times. I’m one of those people who writes on napkins and bank envelopes — but it’s like finding little surprises everywhere. I adore that about myself. The oddest place I ever found inspiration was in a vending machine. Not the snacks or anything, like… the actual machine.
SM: What do you want your life to look like in 10 years?
BM: Exactly like this, but further along. I am one of those lucky people who learned to embrace every second of life and really, really own it. Because of that lesson, I am able to not just project out 10 years with some amazing ideas — but to fill up all that space in between with the good stuff.
SM: What are your top 5 favorite blogs/online resources?
- Instagram is my no. 1 online resource. I’m @officialbeckmetzbower and I have connected with so many people I wouldn’t have otherwise.
- Insight Timer (I downloaded the app) keeps me centered and focused.
- YouTube is great for artist documentaries and business videos. I particularly love Architects of Change and language videos. It’s important that I speak multiple languages in this industry.
- Analytics! I use Google and Yola.
- Forbes. I read so many amazing articles there.
SM: What is your greatest indulgence?
BM: Historically speaking, an indulgence was the act of forgiveness by the Roman Catholic pope for a horrible sin. Obviously today we recognize the word as meaning some luxury item or activity that brings us immense joy and the associated guilt of having said joy. That said, I gave myself permission to surround myself with indulgences and to reject the associated guilt. This means I have that quiet brunch all by myself, that I purchase the purse I’ve been eyeing, that I hire a nanny so I can have one-on-one time with each one of my children, that I invest in an amazing bed and the softest sheets. Life is too short not to enjoy it.
SM: What are you reading right now?
BM: I just finished The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley after my daughter literally placed it on my bed and said, “Read it. It’s my favourite book.” We all seem to have that one book that we read during adolescence that really impacts us (mine was To Kill a Mockingbird and Peter Pan). This was hers. So I had to read it and get a glimpse into the mind of my preteen. I bawled, by the way. Multiple times. The humanity and rawness of the novel left me a more authentic human being, post-read.
SM: What advice would you offer to other mothers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
BM: Make excuses or make it work. That sounds harsh, but I’m not going to throw out some pretty, comforting advice and each path is so unique that offering specifics or details would be useless. I will recommend each person identify her passion and identify a few goals she can work towards, that helps her to begin a business plan for her creative work. This is a tough industry. Your drive for art has to be tougher.