Friday, February 27, 2009

The Artist’s Life

Years ago when I was working as an editor/writer, I dreamt of spending my days making things. I’d already served a brief stint with dried flower crafts, explored the world of polymer clay, learned the fine art of tole painting (remember tole painting??), and spent years with various paper crafts. I had recently discovered stained glass and my obsession was growing. I LOVED MAKING THINGS. And that is how I really wanted to spend my days.

And so it began, my life as an artist. My co-workers and I sold the magazine we had started, and I began working full-time at a local stained glass shop. Under the owner’s generous tutelage, I spent the next year learning as much as I could and growing my glass collection at home.

During the next few years, I spent practically every weekend at an art show or street market selling my glass wares and eeking out a living. Once I moved into the organized goodness that is wholesale marketing, my days became a bit more routine and the weekends became mine again.

Working as an artist is a dream come true. And I would not change a thing. I work independently and the amount of money I earn is proportional to the amount of work I put in. Plus, I spend my days working alone in the haven that is my studio. My personality is well suited to this arrangment. I thrive in it.

But the reality of working as a self-representing artist is that 80% of my time is spent running the business (paperwork, taxes, marketing, ordering supplies, budgeting, product shots, etc.) and 20% is spent in the act of creating. I spent years trying to shift this ratio. But it is what it is. As soon as I spend too much time in my studio, my business suffers. And the hours upon hours of playing paperwork catch-up is never worth it.

I love working as an artist. I love the freedom and independence. I love the kind emails I receive from customers. I love working with shop and gallery owners. I love being home all day with my dogs. And I have truly enjoyed the quirky personalities with whom my occupation allows me to interact. I even love going to the occassional art show.

My desire to spend each day making things is as strong as ever. And the itch to explore new mediums is alive and well. Yep, life is good.

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