Blog / 2014 / You Made Me.

September 12, 2014

Years ago, towards the beginning of my career, I was chatting with a Portland art world gatekeeper. We were talking about an artist I knew, when the gatekeeper confided in me with a strange intensity: “you know, I made that guy.”

That statement was a slap in the face for me. I remember thinking it might very well be true in this instance, and I remember thinking that I didn’t want any one person to ever be able to say that about me. I knew I’d need plenty of help to build a life as an artist, but I still wanted to be the only real driving force behind my success because I wanted my success to be based on the work I was making and not the people I was schmoozing.

According to the Willamette Week, you’re not a proper patron of Portland’s arts scene until you’ve had your portrait painted by Gwenn Seemel.
photo by Gwenn Seemel

“You’re not a proper patron of Portland’s arts scene until you’ve...had your portrait painted by Gwenn Seemel.”

- Staff, Willamette Week, September 2014

These days, my thinking has evolved some. I am pleased to report that I am officially successful and that no one person can say they made me, but—and this is where the shift comes into play—I’m also delighted for just about anyone to say they made me. Because the truth is that they probably did.

Every person who’s engaged with my work in one way or another over the years—as a subject of a portrait, as a client, as someone who buys my books or my prints, or as a person who’s willing to share an opinion with me—has made my success possible. It may be awfully sappy to say so, but it’s true.

Thank you.

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