“Too Pretty For This Shit”: On Being a Female Artist

Too Pretty For This Shit

As an artist, your studio becomes your sanctum, your safe haven for investigating your visceral truths without judgement. That is, until you start having studio visits.

To invite others into your private workspace creates an interesting dynamic in your studio. For a moment you are lowering the sacred walls of your most precious space. The inclusion of an ‘outsider’ almost always feels foreign, especially in those introductory minutes but usually the awkward feeling disappears before too long.

However, sometimes you have one of those studio visits that never quite develops beyond that uneasiness. And that is the inspiration for this neon piece. “Too Pretty For This Shit” was conceptualized after a studio visit in which another female artist spent the entirety of our visit explaining to me that the flaws in my work were rooted not in my ideas, or my materials, or even in my craft, but in my appearance. And it wasn’t in a complimentary way. She stated that because I was “so pretty and put together,” those qualities were holding me back from experiencing hardship or some sort of struggle, which meant that my work could never have the depth or honesty that it needed. That it needed to do what? To be successful? To be honest? To be ‘good’? I still don’t know.

As weirdly intrusive and downright inappropriate as that studio visit was, it actually did make me laugh, which is how this phrase came about, after describing my visit with a friend who jokingly agreed that she was right and that I should stop worrying about all this art shit and just go home and be pretty.

Years later, this particular studio visit reminds me why I feel compelled to make art, and why I encourage women to feel empowered in their bodies and take back control of the word ‘pretty.’

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