Life as an Artist During Hard Economic Times
Being an artist isn't easy during the best of times, so throw in a major recession or Depression and life is, well, even more challenging than ever for someone who lives to create pretty pictures.
First of all, I've worked many different jobs in the past to make money on the side as well as learn aspects of business that art school didn't teach such as accounting, marketing and other things. Being an artist means reinventing oneself from time to time, and going with the flow as finances peak or valley. For some people with great connections and in-house art jobs, life may not be so challenging, but for those of us very sensitive souls who strive for creative freedom to do what we want and go freelance, it takes a bit of inner strength, adaptability and lunacy all stirred together.
After twenty plus years of being a freelancer, I can truly say that I love my job and that it is possible as an artist not to live on skid row if we work hard enough. I've chosen to live in pleasant, comfortable suburbs and don't lack much. Why? Because I am a workahoic and never give up. If things are tight and I need money, I go out and network with friends, exhibit in shows and other venues. The world doesn't know or care about our work the way that we do so it's our job as artists to get out there and self promote.
Awhile back, I had hired a professional agent to show my work. She got me on the cover of a newspaper, with an accompanying article, and some sales but she wasn't as "hungry" to promote as I was. So, a few years later, I let her go and did it all for myself again, and my sales went up. Who knew? I didn't. I'm trained to draw but am really good at sales by some fluke. I worked for a company selling for awhile, and became one of their top salespeople. Not my calling in life, but it was great education and I carry that knowledge into my work.
Another avenue I went down was writing. I'm not the greatest writer but like doing it so I submitted an essay or two to a publisher and they got published! Next thing I knew, I was supplementing my lifestyle with a few lower level writing jobs. That feels good, as writing is an art in itself. I have total respect for those who write well, without errors in grammar, spelling and syntax. It doesn't matter if I'm not as good as those people, the fact is that even small writing assignments count at the end of the month when bills need to be paid. It all adds up.
For young artists, make sure to train yourself in the business of art. It's one thing to create pretty pictures, that is the easy part. It's quite another to promote and sell your work without having some agent or gallery taking a huge cut. When times are tough like this, being resourceful and tenacious are your ammunition to fight off poverty and be an artist who doesn't starve.
Being a freelance artist during tough economic times is hard but not impossible. It takes self discipline, drive and infinite hard work. It doesn't matter to me because I love what I do and it is therapeutic, it gives me peace that other aspects of life just can't. I may not have a fancy home or car but I'm comfortable and live on a lake in serenity. Without peace, I cannot function well so it's very important to me.
My success is in leading a life of freedom and not listening to the boss crab at me for showing up to work five minutes late or for drinking Starbucks in my cubicle. It's ok for those who like that lifestyle but ultimately, that isn't for me. That work environment was overly stressful and very hard on me emotionally to try and be what others wanted me to be all the time. This is why I get up early, work late and try to be the best I can be doing my own job as an artist. I know a job's for me when I feel passion, and when my work inspires others. That's what being an artist is all about.
Tags: Business , Recession , Money , Art , Survival
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