Like many art students in New York City, I graduated college with a prestigious degree and I was broke.
My days consisted of chaos: Wake up, work a day job, come home, and make art all night wishing there were enough hours in the day to get other things done. I was religiously going to gallery and museum shows hoping to make connections and apply to exhibitions. By the time I arrived home, I slept for 3 hours only to wake up and do everything all over again. Suddenly after a long day where I felt completely drained, something dawned on me that I never noticed until now:
The one thing that college FAILED to teach me was that the art world is a business world.
And I had no business savvy in me at all. Everyday I felt like a deer in headlights thinking how do I do this? How do I live the artist life? Am I going about this the right way?
I was going to all these artist shows and making all this work only to be rejected and unnoticed. It made me questions whether I was even talented enough to do this for a living. My artist friends would tell me “But it gets better!” Nope, it doesn’t. As a working artist living in New York City in a small studio apartment with two cats, being an artist is not a career. Being an artist is a lifestyle and you need to find the method to the madness.
For years I knew that I wanted to become an artist but was stopped by fear: fear of failing, fear of disappointment, and fear of the unknown. But I realized that I couldn’t run away from who I am. I’m a creative. It’s what I was born to do and it’s what brings me joy. No matter what day job I take, nothing will ever fill that feeling of creating artwork. Simple right? You’d be surprised how scary that is.
So as I sit here in my apartment preparing for a show coming up this summer, I want to share with you my method on how you can live an artist life with confidence and bravado:
1 – It is going to be difficult.
You’re going to make a lot of bad decisions and have a high failure rate. You’re going to encounter people who will never understand who you and why you choose to stay up late creating while the rest of the world sleeps. You’re going to get out of your comfort zone and deal with change on a regular basis. You will never ever know what is going to happen next and every single day will scare the hell out of you to the point to where you want to quit. And even though this will happen and it might not get better, YOU will get better. You will get better living and working as a artist because it is who you are. And it is this mindset, you will definitely go far.
2 – You need a day job.
This one is where I received a lot of backlash but it’s necessary to address. You need to eat, you have bills to pay and you probably have a studio that you rent out as well as your own apartment. If you are going into the art world to make money or be a big shot then please stop and do something else. The truth of the matter is you probably won’t be making a lot of money (at first) and you are more likely to spend money then make. Remember the whole purpose of you being an artist is because this is your calling and it’s who you are. If you think you need to be working on art 24/7 in order to be a “real artist” I have news for you – no one makes art 24/7. And if it makes you feel any better, a high percentage of artists that you see in galleries and in museums…they have day jobs too.
3 – Keep working no matter what.
Just like writers have writers block, artist can have an artist block. There will be days where you will not be motivated to make anything or you don’t know what to make and you might say to yourself “I’ll just wait for inspiration to come to me!” Please know that if you wait for inspiration, you will never get anything done. Also, not every single art piece you make is going to be great – and that’s okay! This is for you to explore, to find your voice and to find your style. The greatest work comes from trial and error. Give yourself a deadline, mark it on your calendar, find something that will keep you motivated to work on your craft. Even if you feel like you are making crap, just keep working because remember you’re creating because you love the process
So I say to you my fellow creators and to anyone else who feels like the world is against them: keep working, be bold & be YOU! Because no one can take that way from you.
Now, it’s time to show the world what you are made of!
Leave a comment below with an example of when you broke your barrier from giving up to taking on the world by storm! I would love to hear your story.