The Courage to Become | Reagan Corbett #reagART
Hi! My name is Reagan Corbett, I am twenty-four years old and a full time artist from Houston, TX. When I say artist, I mean that I am a creator of sorts, but primarily people recognize me as painter. Although my paintings are what put me on the map, I truly believe that art, and being an artist is more than what you see on the canvas.
Growing up, the one of the things I dreamt of doing was literally being good at something. Whatever that “something” was, I knew it wasn’t going to come easy.
As the middle sister of three girls, I never knew what exactly my “thing” was. I was never the smartest girl in the class, never the best athlete on the team, and honestly never the most talented student in my art classes; but I was always the hardest worker….and I think I get that quality from my dad, which I admire him for.
So I guess my dream, in a way, was to stand out...to be seen differently than so-and-so’s little sister or someone's daughter, but rather someone who was recognized and admired for their talents and accomplishments.
I guess my desire to “stand out”, came from knowing I wasn’t spectacular at anything, and in turn, made me afraid of almost nothing. What did I have to lose? If I tried and worked my hardest at the things that remotely interested me, something good would eventually happen-- and it did.
In the spring of 2012 I was accepted to the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin, and decided to fully embrace the next four years of my creative journey by attending UT’s College of Fine Arts. I learned a ton from my professors, studied abroad, and made exponential strides in my quantified skill level as an artist. Fast-forward to senior year of college, I had learned a lot and loved (almost) all my classes, but had no clue as to what I would be doing post graduation. I researched tons of jobs that would allow me to exercise my creativity, but nothing seemed to “feel right”. I was lost. As senior year was coming to an end I decided I needed to do something with all of the giant paintings I had created over the past few years, so I posted them on Facebook and BOOM, the messages starting pouring in. Out of nowhere a career path came into sight-- people were no longer just complimenting my work, but they wanted to buy it. I was prompted by a friend to start a separate Instagram account (@reag_art) solely dedicated to showcasing my work. I took her advice and “ReagART” was born.
As easy as that sounds, getting started was scary and hard. Right as ReagART was taking off, my life drastically changed. I graduated from college and had to move back home with my parents, lost my studio space, lost group critiques, lost my woodshop, lost the advice of my professors, and just about everything else that made ReagART “work”. After searching for numerous studios around town in Houston, I finally find someone who was willing to take a chance on a twenty-two year old artist with no credit score. After signing the lease, I remember walking into my first studio and thinking, hopefully I can sell a painting to pay next month’s rent. It was the fear of failure, losing my dream of sharing art with the world, and self-disappointment that motivated me to work the hardest I ever had, and still do today.
It’s been almost three years since I first started my career as a professional artist in Houston, and there is no doubt that if I did not work as hard as I did then, and do today, I would not be sitting here writing about the courage to become, because there would be no story to tell.
Right now, the living person I admire the most is my dad. As cheesy and predictable as that sounds he too is an entrepreneur and has unintentionally made me the worker, dreamer and schemer I am today! He’s the type of guy that leads by example, and always has the best advice.
A talent I would most like to have… I’m changing the question to a superpower I would most like to have, and that would be the ability to freeze time. I often find myself stressed, overwhelmed, and full of anxiety because there aren’t enough hours in the day. If I could freeze time, savor the moments (big or small) and get all of my work done… I might be the happiest girl on earth.
My most marked characteristic is drive and commitment to my craft. This job is not for the faint of heart. I hold myself accountable to only being as good as the efforts I put into my work, and with that mentality comes with a lot of sacrifices. Late nights, early mornings, not seeing friends, not seeing family, a lacking social life, no time for a romantic relationship, etc. It’s a trade-off, and a balancing act when I can manage it-- but for the most part my work is my life and that always comes first. If I didn’t fully believe and embrace that mentality, I know my story would be significantly different.
I have to admit that I have fallen victim to the act of comparison, so I am constantly reminding myself of the motto, “the grass is always greener”. I can’t help but envy people who get to leave the office at 5, and literally do not even have to think about work until they come back the next day. I mean that sounds pretty amazing, and somedays I would give anything for that….but then I remember, why I do what I do, and why being an artist works for me. It fulfills me, and makes me feel like I am doing my part in a society where everyone is different.
Working hard day in and day out isn’t always the most pleasurable experience, but this is all part of the bigger picture and I am confident that one day it will all pay off.
First and foremost, I am proud that I am entering my third year of being a full time artist. I am proud that I am an artist for me, and not because someone told me to. I am proud that I hosted my first solo exhibition at the age of twenty-three, and I am proud that my first ever public speech was a TED talk!
When things are looking really bad and not going well, I have to think about all that I have accomplished so far, and know that whatever this terrible moment is, it can’t be the end. I don’t know what my story is in full, or how it will end up, but I know that it won’t end on a bad note or because I was forced out. Another huge motivational force that keeps me going are my collectors and the people that have continued to support me and my career-- letting them down, would be my greatest fear; so giving up is simply not an option.
To any women out there who are about to embark on the journey of becoming an artist I have some words of advice:
Do not let the fear of the unknown stop you, instead let it fuel you to create your own path
Be confident in yourself and in your work, there will ALWAYS be someone who tries to tell you otherwise.
Do it for the passion, not the money
Take all the advice you can get
You are your biggest motivation. Whatever it takes-- get it done!
Essay by: Reagan Corbett
All the art featured was created by Reagan Corbett and if you love it, (which why wouldn't you?) go on over to her Website and browse!
I'm Catia, a woman, wife, mama, sister, sister friend, you know -- I wear a million hats just like you.
One of my biggest whys is that I want people to feel good about ALL of who they are. Including you.
The threads running through all my work (I wrote a book - The Courage to Become, I speak - TEDx #choosejoyordie, I coach, I mentor) are hope, joy and empowerment.
If I could choose ten words that best describe me I would say: honest, welcoming, giving, curious, loving, earnest, empathetic, spiritual, playful, and sassy. Let's add: adventurous. That's 11. Nice to meet you!
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