The Unglamorous Life of an Emerging Artist


Usually, when people think of an artist, they think of either of a hippie like person who's on the verge of being a starving artist or a glamorous person who is constantly going to black tie events and schmoozing with the rich and famous. That may be true for some people in the past and present, but both of these are two extremes. One side being the emerging artist and the other being the established artist. I am going to discuss the emerging artist side because I'm sure as hell not an established artist.


How I know I'm an Emerging Artist


Easy. I have a day job. Don't get me wrong. I love my day job and would still continue to work if I was an established artist. Problem is that if I did not have my day job, I couldn't afford my studio rent, art supplies, accountant and even this website domain. Fact is I don't make any money off my art...hardly. There's a sale here and there but not substantial nor consistent enough to pay for all I just mentioned.


That being said, the day job keeps me from being a "starving artist". In my opinion, every emerging artist should have a day job and/or a side gig to finance an art lifestyle AND have a roof over their head. This involves learning a practical skill that is in the market to get them hired for a consistent period of time. These days that means you need a higher level education such as college or tech school.





MY Story


When I graduated high school, I wanted to go to college for art but my mom most likely wouldn't have funded me going to school solely for art. I needed a skill that promised that I could support myself, pay for my art ventures and live comfortably. My answer was software engineering.


It fit me well enough. My dad was a computer guy, I liked video games and I wondered how to do all this cool stuff with emerging technology. I dreamed of one day being a game designer or app maker while also being an artist. Something cool and innovative. When I chose software engineering, I saw it in the eyes of a creator, which is the same way I see art.


It took six years of life in college to finally leave with a B.S. in Computer Science and a BFA in Photography and Digital Art. But my career as an emerging artist started at the worst time...May 2020...COVID-19 had made the world stop. I was fresh out of college. No job waiting for me. No financial income to rely on. Hardly any money to make it on my own. And the lease was up on my college apartment.


I had to go live with my mom so that I could have a place to live and food to eat. I bought materials with the little money I had to make art for an exhibition I wanted to be a part of. I had made this gigantic 44"x84" drawing called "Grin and Bear It" just in time for the exhibition. It had to have been my first official masterpiece as an emerging artist. But it cost $3,000 to get it framed. I had the money but it was a big risk and investment in my art career.


In Novmeber of that year, I took on a small part time internship that paid $10/hour for a maximum of 20 hours/week. Not a whole lot of money. With that money, I bought more supplies and made more work. I bought enough that was within my limited income. But even that paid internship had a limited time period. I was back to trying to find a job in March 2021. It would be one more month before I finally was hired by my current day job.


Grin and Bear It, 2020



Making It In Art...Sorta


Outside of financially investing in your art career, there is a lot of work to be put into making art. It also takes time, space, inspiration and dedication. That's why I have a studio space at Lowe Mill. Before that, I worked on my art in my mom's garage and driveway when it came to my multimedia pieces. But my photography suffered entirely because I was not allowed to bring people to the house to photograph them and it was too cold during the winter to take pictures of my models.


Time And Space

Once I had the space, I could then dedicate a period of time to my work. The only thing that sucks about not being able to make work at home anymore is that whenever I'm in the mood to draw, I can't work from home whenever I feel like it. To remedy that, I carry around a journal where I draw all my ideas and make detailed notes. This has helped my production because I can gather the material and carry out my ideas at a faster pace since I just have to copy my ideas from my journal onto the final work. In total, I spend two days actually making pieces. To make up for it, I have to draw out my ideas on the weekdays.


Inspiration

In my previous blog, I talked about working to find inspiration. I say it because in my situation, I can not afford to be uninspired for the two days I get to actually work on my pieces. You can do what ever you want (that is if it's legal) to become inspired. For me, I just live my life. To be more exact, I window shop on Amazon, read nonfiction books and articles that peak my interest, look up other artists, and go to sleep. There are more things but I just try to find inspiration as I live my life. My advice to other emerging artists is to find a process that works and doesn't make them feel like they're suffering.


Dedication

This next part can be the most annoying or most satisfying part of being an emerging artist. Searching for exhibitions to show your work. As I'm typing this, I have the most annoyed look on my face. As an emerging artist, I have to scour the web for hours to find an exhibit that takes multimedia art and/or photography. There is usually a fee to pay. Being accepted is all dependent upon if the judge likes your work AND feels as if your work fits into the show. In short, it's a constant gamble. But it's oh so satisfying when you get accepted to show your work.



Conclusion


I say all this to drive home that being an emerging artist takes a lot of work. Work from school (if you decide to go that route). Work from...well, work. And most importantly, work from art. Starting out is not going to be glamorous. And that's perfectly okay because there is a lot to learn to become an established artist who can stand on their own two feet. If I ever get to see the day where I get to be an established artist, I'll make a post about it. But that's not going to be this year.


If you liked blogs like this, leave a comment or like this post. Let me know how I'm doing as a blogger because I honestly don't know what I'm doing. Leave a comment about what you'd like me to write about next.


I'll write to y'all laterrr! Bye!


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