(A follow-up to THIS post, from which I've received so much insight and input from. Thank you.) ..................................................................................................... I've thought it over and over and over again... How will I ever make this studio business work? I mean, really, don't they call it STARVING ARTIST for nothing? I mean, where is this REALLY going? How in the EVERLOVING HELL will I make a living being an ARTIST?
For years, I've battled many doubts about this path. And I've mentioned them. Here. and Here. and Here. and Here.
But then I sell something to a fabulous patron, collector, or avid Etsian, get an email from a blown-away customer, some feedback equally amazing, or find someone "pinned" something I made on an "inspiration" pin-board. I see earrings at the farmers market that are unmistakably mine. and I crack a smile.
Deep breath. Say a little prayer. I Shake that monkey off my back, for now, And then I take another step forward. I'm still here. After nearly 6 collected years of spotty schooling, debt, un-paths, and the horrible misfortune of realizing my trust fund was....a fantasy, after starting this *for real* 4 years ago, R&S IS a business. I pay taxes, own a home, and live in one of the most gorgeous (and not exactly cheap) corners of the country. I get to do something with my life that truly feeds my soul. It just so happens to feed me with grocery money too. I love it. It's not easy. But I love it. In fact, I'm not sure how I lived life WITHOUT IT. I don't expect it to be easy, either.... that's why some artists starve. It's a lotta damn work. And if you're not willing to do the work, you're not gonna make it. That's where some people lose steam and say F*** it, I'm going to be a janitor. (actually, no one says that. But you know where I'm going here...) But honestly, this Job.... I couldn't imagine life without such a raw outlet for whatever this world throws me.
I am blessed with a man whose unconditional love and support has always been unwavering. His faith in me is the main reason I am where I am today. His constant nudgings, kind words, and dreamings of "when she makes it big"... makes me a better artist, and most certainly a better me. Without him, I don't know how far down this rabbit hole I'd have gone. I am blessed with technology.... seriously people, 10 years ago, remember the days of "cat-5" cords and library-only internet? Big desktop Dells and, shit, ENCYCLOPEDIAS? Without such a vast and booming global economy of internet-shoppers, and the uprising of the "handmade is cool" movement, the Global handmade market of Etsy, and the ever-changing new science of Social Media, I am not sure this would have ever been in the ethereal life plan for me. Thank you, Apple. and Etsy. and Mark Zuckerberg. I am mostly and undoubtedly, honored, though, and blessed, and humbled....daily......
by YOU. The reader. The watcher. The fan. The patron. The fellow artist. The friend. The handmade enthusiast. The guy who reads and doesn't comment, but is STILL THERE. The gal who thinks, mistakably, that I glue together my work with...uh..... Thank you. How odd and yet absolutely validating it is as an artist to have an audience. Whether they are in the flesh or of the digital variety, that means that YOU have found ME....not the other way around. YOU choose me. And that's so. f***ing. awesome. every. time. It is YOU (and maybe a few strokes of destiny) who have made this lil' studio dream a reality. It is YOU who I really owe an enormous amount of gratitude and success to. Without you, this would just simply not be. This simply would not be. .... A prayer for YOU then, and a thank you: For the conscientious one at the market on Central and 1st, who chooses local over imported, who chooses handmade expenses over cheap mass-imports. who would rather have "one good one" than a bunch, For the USA Made enthusiast, the MADE IN MONTANA patron, the guy with the crappy nissan pick-up whose bumpersticker mantra is "Buy Local" and actually DOES. To the gal who patched her own jeans in line in front of me at the post office who obviously is also sending some small thing she also has made, or maybe somebody else made it.... but it comes from a place of sincere honesty, encased in bubble wrap and a thousand little prayers. It's not in a box yet, but it soon will be, along with the hopes that the receiver will also LOVE this little handmade ditty and see it's inherent value. and display it proudly.
GO YOU! A thousand pats on the back that you are trying, in your own ways and means, to bring back what you believe to be the soul of consumption. We all do it. It's okay to consume. We're Humans and thats what we do... but we can do it in a way that MAKES SENSE TO US, as individuals and as a globe. We can be a little choosey, a little pickey, a little inquisitive... because, you'd like to know.... where WAS that made? HOW? by WHOM? and did they get paid to do such beautiful work? Can you meet them and discuss their way, their view, their mindset? Can you learn from them? Can you relate? GO YOU! You awesome, educated, aware consumer. You awesome artist, musician, carpenter, cook, concierge, computer programmer, whatever. You're awesome, ya' know? I know you care about me. I most certainly care about you. YOU get that everyone deserves to find meaningful work. YOU appreciate the fact that it is now more popular than ever to do so, and why shouldn't it be, really, to find some work that actually can make you happy? And it's cool if you think I am magical, because really, I try hard to be. I try really hard to sprinkle a little magic into your life if you'll let me. GO YOU! A great big hug, and a sincere apology, if I've given you salty return from a simple question on price, or whether or not the contents were mechanically or synthetically applied.... I know you are truly interested in what my heart was trying to say when I set that stone, or etched that silver, or cut out that funny little shape. It's NOT glue, and I'll tell you why, if you'll let me. I know you trust me in my craft, just as you would a doctor or a scientist. Because you know it IS my profession, my job, and it's also my honor on each and every piece I make. (and for the artists) GO YOU! You artist you... nothing roars more clearly than the proud cry of a fellow pack-mate! It sends shivers down my spine that YOU TOO are trying your damnedest. Go for whatever it is you had in mind, and then double it. If you can't find your way back out of it, either google-search an answer, or totally make that shit up. Fake it till ya' make it. And you WILL make it, as long as you are willing to work your ass off, be flexible, and retract those fangs when someone makes a poor choice of words around the baby that is your work, because remember, not everyone's gonna get "it" And that's okay. It's YOUR JOB to EDUCATE THEM. You'll be doing everyone in your field a favor. So thanks ahead of time for that. And thanks for making the world a prettier place. (Also, don't forget to have fun....because this IS FUN. We all know you make better work when you're having fun anyway.)
GO YOU! I am so glad you are here. Thank you for being here. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo Erin
How will I ever make this studio business work?
I mean, really, don't they call it STARVING ARTIST for nothing?
I mean, where is this REALLY going?
How in the EVERLOVING HELL will I make a living being an ARTIST?
For years, I've battled many doubts about this path. And I've mentioned them.
"How will I ever pay my mortgage, build a website, master the in's and out's of social media, conquer fancy cameras, keep electricity bills at bay, build portfolios, wholesale goods, keep gas in cars, find good gallery representation, hover over latest and greatest work in my medium, find inspiration to fuel work, pay taxes, mow lawn so neighbors aren't pissed, re-fuel creative well, keep current friendships in tact, continue pursuing other hobbies and passions, grow gardens, call mom, entertain friends, enjoy love at it's best and at it's worst, produce holiday shows, write blogs with integrity, build brand, etc."
And the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on.
Ya' know what, though? I'm still here.
After nearly 6 collected years of spotty schooling, debt, un-paths,
and the horrible misfortune of realizing my trust fund was....a fantasy,
after starting this *for real* 4 years ago,
R&S IS a business.
I pay taxes (30% people!), and a mortgage.
I feed myself, and occasionally get to travel.
I even bought *SQUEAL* new BOOTS this year! (Yes, the ones you wear. on your feet.)
I love it.
It's not easy.
But I love it.
In fact, I'm not sure how I lived life WITHOUT IT.
My bank account nears the red-zone more than I care to admit,
and I know the city water shut-off guy by name now.
I constantly am battling the "am I good enough" monkey on my back,
and I didn't even qualify for Obamacare because I'm too poor.
I don't have a savings account, a retirement plan, or a 401-K.
But I couldn't imagine life without such a raw outlet for whatever this world throws me.
I am blessed with an audience of stone and silver lovers, a few collectors, and a vibrant art scene.
I am blessed with the day and age where fine art is taught to be valued,
where artists are taught to be business people.
But I make a fair and honest request:
Ask an artist.
A REAL studio artist, who slaves and bleeds into their work,
whose main focus in life is to make beautiful things for this world,
who devours articles in their field like good homemade mac and cheese,
who can't get enough creative stimulation, from film, and books, and people, and the mountains,
who can't get enough ART in their daily habit,
whose research and love of the medium is found in their recent google history,
who can't get enough time to talk about whatever it is they are passionate about to joe-blo at the supermarket, after him remarking "how awesome that piece is/was/will be"...
whose blinding and intense work ethic is something to be reckoned with.
who NEVER GIVES UP, regardless of what the world continues to push,
even when their bank accounts are in a completely unavoidable move between work that sells
and work that does not.
Ask an artist what they are worth.
I guarantee you,
they couldn't tell you.
Billable hours? an actual HOURLY WAGE? A projected SALARY?
I only say this because carpenters who build homes know.
Because electricians know.
Because teachers and doctors and construction workers and policemen know.
This is NEVER up for debate, what a professional is worth. It just IS.
Then there are the studio artists....
The ones who couldn't tell you what they are worth per hour. per project. per year.
This I've come to know as a breed, a people, a force of continual energy of the universe.
They are tough-skinned folk. Because criticism abounds, they have to be.
Mama always says "opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one."
It takes balls bigger than you think you have to DO THIS.
And it's SCARY AS SHIT to actually think of yourself as an hourly-wage earner.
And it's even scarier to look at the account balance of $0.16 and NOT want to quit.
It takes patience to look the "Why is this almost $500?" customer in the eyes without baring fangs, and calmly educate them as to WHAT IT IS THEY ARE LOOKING AT.
Don't expect these artist-types to be iron-clad, though, or even super-human.
Artists are not magicians. They cannot make everything.
They don't WANT to make everything.
Make no mistake of the passion and love and intensity (and sensitivity) capable of these fierce souls.
These are the workers of our time,
consumed by a passion with such blinding intensity
that not even the jack-hammer at the construction site down the street is a distraction.
It's all undivided attention to a craft/skill/medium/art that borderlines obsession.
It's THAT intensity from the artist somewhere, you know,
that THOUGHT UP the CONCEPT AND DESIGN of a JACKHAMMER.
SO WHEN YOU SAY:
This is so expensive!
I could never justify that price.
Could you give me a deal?
I could have made that.
It looks like something easy to make.
How did you do that?
Can you tell me where to buy those supplies? (so I can copy you...)
and could you tell me where to get a deal?
Is that super-glued?
Can you super-glue this for me?
won't you give me a deal, because it's JUST glue, right?
Remember these fierce souls.
Remember the fight they fight on a daily basis.
Remember that intensity that makes them bleed art and integrity.
Remember their google history, and their student loans/training/investment in their craft.
Remember that YOU know how much you are worth per hour,
and are not required to give an explanation as to why you cost what you do.
Remember the countless hours of makings, re-makings, and tearing-aparts because it just *wasn't*
Remember the way you felt when you first saw that thing on Pinterest that made your heart skip,
remember the Artist.
Because something honest comes from intensity and dedication and education.
There's YEARS of practice, schooling, and professional training.
There's STUDYING. (YES! LOTS!) And probably debt too.
There's CONSTANT process that is practiced, it's called WORK.
That dedicated practice will one day create something awesome you MIGHT just be lucky enough
to take home/wear/look at FOREVER.
And that's something you should be able to put a price on. Right?
That fierceness that makes creatives tick, it's like a fire.
And if you know anything about fire,
you know fires burn hot and sometimes burn quick.
And for sure, make no mistake about it......
that passion bubbles from the cages of my ribs, from the depths of everything I am...
sometimes erupts like fire as a quick and short-worded contest
to an almost constant disrespect of the word ART. Maybe not from YOU. But constant.
Fierceness translates in a glance under sunglasses after you've just asked any or all these things.