Making a Living As a Multi-Talented Artist
I find most artists, whether you’re a painter, dancer, musician or any other creative medium also have a secondary medium that they explore in. It is challenging already to take a personal talent and make it work for you in a financial way. A lot of artists are talented in their field but lack the know how to get the ball rolling. So if you are an artist that enjoys a couple different ways to express your art, how do you choose which one to take to a professional level? A level in which you can make a living. These are the questions that I had to ask myself when I decided to leave the “work for someone else world” and just wanted to do art. There is no right way. The beauty of being a true artist is paving a personal path through trial and error.
I will explain how I developed my painting skills to start to bring in income. Also how I decided out of the talents that I possess – guitar, martial arts, dance and painting how I chose what one to develop into a profession. I will also explain briefly my next mission and that is: how do I combine my mediums of artistic expression to form a supper “unit”.
After graduating from the art institute of Phoenix, I got a job working at Air Photo USA. This was a map making company that had small Cessna airplanes that would take aerial photo images. I worked in the quality control department. My job was to scan whole maps in Photoshop and look for abnormalities. Such as specks, hairs, dust that the scanner picked up, bad color and wavy lines or over lapping images. Once I found them I would correct them in Photoshop. I did this for little over 2 years. Sitting in front of a computer all day was mind numbing, I almost went nuts! I was let go with a small severance package.
I had some money saved and with the severance package that I received, I thought, “Now what?”. I was no longer doing any illustration and/or painting because I felt I was burnt out from the Art Institute of Phoenix. I was concentrating heavily on guitar and martial arts training. I had been playing guitar for several years by now and would practice at least two hours a day. I got pretty efficient in it. I wanted to produce and make music. But was I ready to?? NO, way. I knew this and to this day I am just now getting ready to really get some things recorded 6 years later. We are also our own worst critics.
After leaving Air Photo USA, I had a bit of an emotional episode involving a relationship that went Splat! I figured it was time to pack my bags and move back to San Francisco my hometown and live with my older brother. I thought I needed to figure out what it was I want to do with my life before my small amount of saving was gone.
I started meditating and asking myself, “What is it that I want out of Life?” I never focused on what I did not want in my Life. Every self reflective question/statement I asked myself was stated something like this:
“I want to work for myself” “How do I work for myself?” “What do I have right now? “What talent that I have will and can be utilized to put money in my pocket and food in my mouth?” “What talent that I possess is going to make me happy doing it all the time?”
I looked at the guitar player in me. I had been playing for a few years and although I had become fluent playing the instrument, I had no real experience writing songs and/or singing. Not to mention, I was shy and really had not developed confidence in my singing ability. So, the prospects of getting booked for any gigs soon didn’t look too promising.
Okay what’s Next?
Then I looked at the dancer/martial artist talent in me. I have been doing martial arts almost all of my life on and off with different intentions and intensities. Although, I consider myself above a normal standard for martial arts ability, I knew if I wanted to open my own school I would have to find a new teacher. I would have to start with a new system and I would have to start competitions and fights to gain experience and establish a following. That takes time and money. I needed money Now! Plus, after evaluating the reasons why I train, doing cage matches and becoming a MMA fighter didn’t seem to appealing. I am not a fighter. I don’t train martial arts to win fights. I train so I know how to survive in Life and keep myself disciplined. I am into survival. I still train and I can see myself teaching one day. I would teach purely to give back to the community and not try to make a living from it. As for dancing, I had just picked up free style dance, house, modern and brake-dance. I had no formal training. It was basically the same story as my martial arts history.
I asked myself, “What do I have left? Who Am I and what is my strongest talent?” I then asked myself, “What do I feel the most comfortable and confident doing? What have I been doing the longest? ART, Painting! Derr. I knew that I could start selling my art work if I started painting again. I had not picked up a brush in years. But, I knew it was inside of me and not that hard to find. When I look back at my earliest memories, painting and being creative always stands out as one of my fondest talents.
I am what I am today and I am here today because that was the beginning process.
Whatever your talent is, pick the one that you feel is the most powerful. Pick the one that is the most marketable. Also, pick the one that brings you the most freedom in mind and spirit because it is the most natural to you. Once you have found that, the next step is to make a game plan. Little steps, fight and win little battles because it is those that make up the entire picture. I will share with you my first game plan so you can get the idea.
I wanted to sell my work. But I didn’t have a piece of work to sell, not one painting and I had not painted in years. I had to get the juices going. I sat down and meditated… Bingo, this is what needed to be done. I went to the art store and bought a portfolio book with empty sleeves. I also bought pens and markers. I wasn’t ready for the brush yet. But I told myself that I am going to fill up this whole book with illustrations and then take the best ones and make paintings out of them. So I began. It was one of the most memorable times in my life. I drew all day filling this book up and getting myself inspired. I started to surround myself with like minded people. I also rented movies and read books on my favorite artist to find out their process. The universe I believe works in mysterious ways. Before I knew it an opportunity found me.
I came back to Arizona from San Francisco for Thanksgiving and met a friend of mine from Arizona who runs a local chain of Italian restaurants. He gave art shows out of the restaurants every so often. He and a couple investors had a company called Dreamz Art. This company would give artists’ shows, represent them and make giclees prints of their work. He ask me to come up with a series. When the book was done come up with at least 6 new paintings from the book. Come back to Arizona and lets have your first art show. Great, everything was falling into place.
I moved back to Arizona and had a successful art showing. I have been painting full time ever since, pop art, modern wall art, abstract art, surrealism. Once I got that initial push, I was able to support myself with my artwork. I find that opportunities constantly are coming my way. I appreciate all the opportunities that continue to come my way even though I realize we all have good days, good months but also have down days and bad months. The way I stay mentally positive is to do my best to stay productive! When I get stuck in life, I ask myself, “What can I do right now, in this moment that can help me go forward?” Be mindful of your time and how you spend it, because the smallest effort could start a chain of events that could link you to a huge success. Remember this, any productive action is a move in the right direction. No action is a move in no direction. Regardless how small, it is all part of the larger goal! I am constantly striving for the next level because I know if I keep this same formula success will always come.
Have a realistic plan. A realistic plan will start with a few small goals that you know you can accomplish within a reasonable amount of time. I like to look at my greater goal, then I work myself backward on a piece of paper writing out the steps on how to get there. If you try to conquer your large goal first without breaking it down into smaller units it probably won’t work. It will fall apart at the seams because it has no real foundation.
So now that I am selling my artwork on a consistent basis how do I incorporate painting with my guitar playing? My goal is to play the guitar at gigs and display my art with it. I am using the same formula that I did with my artwork.. I am coming up with some songs, practicing them and doing my best to come up with a 45 min set. Once I have my set finished, I need to put together a small business proposal that I can take and present to local venues and show them what I have. I think it would be a great idea, play my music and have a vending booth to sell my art.
If you’re a multi talented artist and are having a hard time starting out and picking which one to pursue, I hope reading my process has helped a little. You might even have two talents that are equal. I have a few friends like this. They dance professionally and play in a band, they DJ at clubs and show their artwork. Being a full time artist you have to survive and to do that you have to have a product/talent that you can sell to the public. I know now I can go to pretty much any major city in the world and if I have the right supplies to paint, I can feed myself, I can survive. I feel the next article I will write will be: Full time artists, more then surviving, it’s about thriving and becoming very successful.
Certificate of Authenticity with each original painting
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