Now in its second printing, Dorrell's Living the Artist's Life is a survival guide for artists who don't want to starve during their struggles toward sustainability. This semiautobiographical tale covers subjects as disparate as self-promotion and the emotional prep work needed for a future of alienation and rejection.
That life is now in Dorrell's past. The founding owner of the Leopold Gallery, Dorrell has consulted on diverse art projects, including the Overland Park Convention Center and the National D-Day Memorial. Though he has lived and worked in New York, Spain and Italy, he says his calling is to be here promoting Kansas City artists.
Surviving -- whether in the urban jungle or in the burbs -- isn't easy, though. "The vast majority of artists, they're really hoping they'll get paid for what they do," Dorrell says. "To carry that burden [of working a nonart job] for the first ten years is understandable. To do it for another ten years or forever ... I've seen it grind people down to nothing."
Equal parts cheerleader and life coach, Dorrell says most artists emerge from art school completely unprepared for the hustle. Getting into galleries, broadening into larger exhibits, learning how to price work and, perhaps most important, how to cope with isolation, frustration and loneliness are just some of the day-to-day challenges.
"The great artists of the time aren't recognized while they're alive," Dorrell says. "When people think of Rodin, they think of this powerful sculptor, but he didn't make any money until he was in his 50s. There were times when he and his family didn't eat." These days, that's not one of Dorrell's problems.