I have a question that has been bugging me. I want more experienced artists opinions on this.
I've been mulling over an issue as a young artist. My friend and I have been batting around this question, and coming up with opposite answers. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it.
Is it possible to be an artist and work in other things than just art?
What I mean is, I have polymath tendencies and I worried its going to ruin me. I enjoy learning and exploring lots of different subjects. I like trying new techniques, new mediums, and new materials. I'm an artist, but also a writer, and filmmaker. I also like working out, mountain climbing, traveling around, going to music shows, and having interesting life experiences and going on adventures. Theres lots of different subects outside of art that I'm interested in though to me all of these things relate to my art.
I've also heard a lot of advice that you have to specialize in order to make it as an artist. That you have to devote yourself to just art, and nothing else. My friend insists that if you want to make it as an artist, you can't be a polymath. You have to restrict yourself to just art, and not just art but a specific section of art. If you want to do illustration you can't do anything else. You have to spend all your free time drawing and nothing else, or else you're doomed to failure. You have to hone your skills to a razor sharp edge at the expense of putting time into other things.
I want to do more than just that. It's not that I lack work ethic, it's that I'm interested in building up my skills in multiple areas. I hope that these other things give me a broader view, help me see more things, and hopefully make my art stronger. Neil Gaiman and Chuck Palahniuk both gave some advice to young writers that basically boiled down to "To be a good writer you have to write a lot, and live a lot of life. Get lots of life experiences and write a lot". This is my approach towards art also.
However, I'm not so sure about that. There is some part of me that fears in the back of my head, that trying to go for so many things means I will fail at all of them.
What are your thoughts? Is specialization the only way?