An Assistant's Story from an anonymous ex-assistant gives a positive reassessment of assistants:
I worked for a famous artists a few years ago for a period of three years. During my employment I often dreamed of the time when I could “spill the beans” on all that went on in the studio, her home, social life, international trips and exhibitions. I looked forward to the day when I could have my say, an exposé and, perhaps, claim something for myself. However, as the years have passed this ambition now feels so cliché and really quite sophomoric. Perhaps, I am getting old and am less of a crackerjack, but, now, all I have is gratitude.
Okay, maybe a bitter taste does still linger, but the bitterness, I find, so embarrassing. To be an artist assistant is quite a normal thing for an artist to do at the beginning stages of a career. Regardless, to be an artist and work as an artist assistant can sometimes be a little painful on the ego.
Today, I looked back at my diary which included some journaling, press clippings, photographs, invites, notes, cards and random bits and bobs. The remnants that I sifted through today I am so fond of and so grateful for. It is so strange to see myself in the pictures – posing in some, working away in others + a few of me dancing on tables with my boss. In some, I see what a hardedge I had during those times. I worried that I had put myself in a vulnerable position - one that I could be taken advantage of or one where I might have my artist self sucked out of me. So, I maintained quite a “nobody is going to mess with me” attitude. I imagine now that this wasn’t very comfortable for my employer. Looking back I wished I’d been a bit more forthcoming. It was a fantastic opportunity and I am ever so grateful to have had it.
To be an artist you have to be so headstrong; you have to believe in yourself and your convictions. It is lonely and often you are working against all odds. Being an artist often feels like the hardest job in the world and, sometimes, we could do with a little help.