The Reality of Being a Full-time Artist
The upfront cost of being a full-time artist means letting go of fear. As much as everyone thinks I sit around and paint whenever the aha moment strikes me. It isn't as sexy as that. Much of the journey is redundant and draining. In fact, I spend a ton of time planning things, doing social media marketing, building my website, shipping packages, following up on potential sales, applying to shows. I spend WAY more time on the business of art than I like to. Because I don't like it, at all. But it is all part of the business of art. Now the art itself, the creative part, the painting, that's where my joy lies. That's what I am truly passionate about. But I know that there is more to being an artist than just creating. In order to take this seriously as a career, I have to do the work to make it sustainable.
(Do I make money from my Art? Not nearly enough, which is depressing)
Sometimes it can honestly be terrifying. I spend countless hours on paintings, I wake up and put my everything into this, not knowing the outcome. I don't know if I will be able to sell a piece when I sit down to create it. In fact I don't even think about that. I just create what I know, what I feel deep down inside my heart is important to share. I don't even know if anyone will want it, but I am compelled to create these images. If I don't I swear I'd go mad. So I go through this loop. I create art, and I share the art. Over and over. Sometimes I have success with it, sometimes a painting will be scooped up and sold before it is even completed. Other times I will have slumps, weeks where I feel my successes are less than I'd hope for. I fight with paintings, I rework things and I get mad at everything. I am learning to be resourceful. I'm learning to work smarter. I will now set aside paintings that aren't working, and don't have a deadline. I'll pick up something new, until I can resolve the issues within the painting prior. I've mastered the art of being brave and pushing on despite my fears. I submit to many galleries, shows, and places I am interested in being a part of.
(I'm just over here creating art, whether you like it or not! I won't stop until you do.)
Every little yes is a small achievement, a step forward to a new place to play in, a new set of rules to follow and things to learn. As an artist I have found that I constantly need to adapt while still being 100% me and maintaining the things that make me and my artwork unique. I sometimes feel like a spider, spinning a web in that I have full intentions on building this great thing, to sustain me and my family, but there is so much uncertainty within it. It's like I have found the thing I am made to do, I know for certain this is my calling, and I am focused on building this and making it my own, but not everyone wants to embrace and support that. I am so very thankful to those I come across who do support me, my art collectors, people who have given me chances, passed opportunities my way, I hold you all very dear to me. Without support I may have given up a long time ago.
And don't get me wrong there are days that I want to give up. There have been times when a rejection letter has pushed me to the point of pulling up the online job listings and crying as I browse office jobs in the area. But I realize everytime I am having that moment, that another no isn't going to stop me. I'm crying because I love my art too much to quit. I've invested too much time, too many emotions, and I've come too far to give up now.
Then I get mad, and I use that anger to push forward. I'm used to not fitting in to places I want to fit in to. I am used to being an outlier. I am okay with that. Being different and not fitting in means that I will continue to stand out. I've been figuring out what makes me stand out and capitalizing on that and that feels far more authentic and true to myself, which is ultimately more important to who I am as an artist than if I decided to hone it in to fit into the places I want to be a part of. Let's be honest, I'm not going to stand out by recreating big eye'd girls Margret Kean, Mark Ryden and Mab Graves have already mastered and locked down that market for themselves. No, I am going to create my own path, albeit it's harder than taking the path that's already been paved and marked. But, I feel the need to forge my own path, and I know that it may be harder, it may take me longer and I may get lost many times along the way. At least it will be full of adventure, exciting stories of territories that have yet to be discovered, and the art I will create while doing so will tell that story.
(And to those who don't support me, or understand where I am at with my art)