The past year has been a challenging one financially, starting a business, living off savings and a part-time job, having two cats get sick and need emergency veterinary care. Not to mention, running a business, no matter how simple, costs money. For art, there are fees to apply to festivals, booth fees IF you get accepted, supplies, all of the display costs (booth, chair, table, shelving, walls, etc.), fees to make scans/photographs of art, buying stock to have things to sell besides original art. Often, the first few years of starting a new business require working your butt off, spending all the money you have, and then hoping that it will be successful.
I am a planner. I like to know what happens next. I like security. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. Most people like to know they will be able to keep food on the table and a roof over their head. Sometimes it’s disheartening. The other week had a slow day at an outdoor market. After spending ten hours in the sun, I made $30, and that wasn’t even $30 profit. After the booth fee and cost of stock, it was probably closer to $10. Forget thinking about the cost of my time. On my next Instagram post, I asked folks what they do to stay motivated when they feel like giving up. I got so many amazing answers, but the two that stuck with me the most came from other artists. One friend said that when you’re already an artist, you can’t help it, that’s what you are. Another said that everything in life is uncertain, even the traditional job, and you might as well do something that you can look back on and feel good about.
Recently, I was privy to a conversation between artists about what they get from their art. That was something new to me. I often think about why I make art but not what art does for me. This particular artist does projects that involve a large number of people, and he mentioned that he was an introvert, and this style of art really pushed him to get outside of his comfort zone and interact with others. So I started thinking about how my art has changed and challenged me. It certainly has pushed me outside of my box. It is so difficult to promote yourself, to ask venues to show your art, to apply to juried shows knowing you might not get in, to put art up in front of others and hope they don’t hate it… it kind of feels like asking someone out on a date. And back to what I was talking about earlier, the financial aspect of starting a new venture. Despite my fears, despite the fact that I don’t really have any extra money, every time I have needed money for a booth fee or another tube of paint, it has been there. Despite my insecurities about putting my art out there, the response has been mostly positive. That doesn’t mean that I don’t stress about money or time or being rejected. But more and more, I am learning to do the best I can with what I can control and with the things I can’t, just letting go. The beautiful and complicated art of surrender.