I met Peter Max by pure coincidence at a party which one of my father’s real estate agents put on and to be honest I was a little in awe at first and didn’t go over to speak to him. To give some context to this I had been a struggling artist for as long as I could remember, and Peter was a great hero of mine. At that stage, I was selling the odd piece of work over Facebook but beyond that things were pretty slow, and I was soon to become a dad to a beautiful daughter. This chance meeting really did come at quite the perfect time becasue I was actually in the process of looking for a day job to support the birth of my child.
I took the bull by the horns and went over to speak to Peter, with millions of things in my head that I wanted to say, and trying to avoid walking over and making myself look silly. Peter says that I didn’t look nervous when I walked over to him, but I can tell you now that I most certainly was. To put a finer point on it, Peter and I began talking about art and didn’t stop until the party was almost over, I mentioned during the chat about my predicament and out of nowhere he invited me to come and work at his studio, helping him and being able to do my own stuff, I took his hand off there and then. In the years that followed Peter has helped me immeasurably and the role of a mentor has meant so much to be, and here is what great mentor can do for you.
No matter whether you have a mentor in business, art or any other industry, the tutelage which they can provide you with is incredibly valuable. What you get from a great mentor is someone who has been there and done it before, so you are not just getting information but real knowledge that has been learned through experience. This is something that you cannot learn from books or classrooms, only through the eyes and the guidance of a great tutor.
What you are looking to gain from a great mentor is personal improvement, in whatever field or industry that you are working in. Before I started working with Peter I was always very sure in my abilities as an artist, but the improvement that I have made under him since we began working together is absolutely incredible. You have to remember how other people see you and that they will always notice different things about you than you do about yourself. Great mentors spot things in you which you can improve and they help you do so by tailoring their message to you and your capabilities.
A good mentor will not just teach and guide you but they will also test you in order to see how well you cope. I can remember after I had been working with Peter for around 6 months, he told me that he was curating an art show at a small gallery, which would be attended by around 50 people. Peter asked me to meet him at the entrance at 8 sharp so that I could support him with this. I arrived of course at 8, only to be met by a different man altogether, introducing himself as the owner of the gallery. What had actually happened was that Peter was never coming, and this was a pleasant surprise for me, and a test to see how well I could cope in a room full of art lovers. This was a very sink or swim policy which Peter had but it really did help me out greatly over the years. A mentor should be confident enough to test you and to see what you are made of, which is the same thing as giving you a chance to shine.
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Finally, a mentor should use their sway and their influence to open doors for you, not to give you the keys to the golden castle of course, but to give you the opportunity to show the world what you know and what you have learned. It is of course completely on you to take the opportunity which you are presented with, but it is absolutely vital that you have a mentor who is willing to fight your corner and who will provide you with the chances that you need to make a success of things.
Since I stole a few minutes with Peter at that party, my life has improved for the better and that is all down to Peter and the role which he has played for me as my mentor.