Thing One and Thing Two for being a Real Live Artist
In a former life I worked with aggressive dogs. I got a couple of degrees in behavior analysis in my mid-40s, and like a goofball raised my hand when the suggestion of working with aggressive dogs was tossed out there for grad students looking for thesis research ideas. Doink. It turned out to be a pretty sweet experience. I learned how not to scream while gigantic dogs were lunging at me, and I wrote a thesis that got a lot of mileage. Here we are some 15 years later and people still ask me to teach about it. For money. That’s cool. That’s one of my side hustles. I could make more money doing that than doing art, but the fact is, I want to do art, so Art is my main hustle.
Artists that want to be Real Live Artists often think there’s no way they can make that work because, you know, bills and whatnot. But, y’all, this is the era of the gig economy. There are ways to make it work.
Thing One: Art is Always Thing One
The first bit of advice I toss ever so casually in your direction is to make your art your Thing One. Even if you’re a lawyer in your day job, if you want to be a full time artist, you have to make art your main hustle and lawyering your side hustle. This sounds preposterous, I know. Well, unless your lawyering isn’t making you any money, then the choice is easy. If you’re trying to jump from the lawyer pot to the art frying pan, you gotta prioritize art. Do this no matter how much money your lawyering (or waitering or insurance-selling or doctoring or dog walking) makes you. If you, for real, want to be an artist, put art in the front seat.
This means you schedule art time and stick to that schedule. You may not have the option of changing the hours of your other job (aka side hustle) to accommodate your art (which sucks) but you can schedule your Art Hours. You can grab dinner after work and head to your workspace instead of putting on your jammies and watching TV. Or you can paint in your jammies, I don’t care. Just don’t blow off art hours, because, remember. Art is your main hustle. It’s even perfectly fine to paint with the TV on, or listen to Podcasts or audiobooks or music. I do! Honestly, Niblings. You don’t have to be curmudgeonly about your art time. Make it fun. But make it solid. Never skimp on art time.
Thing Two: Art Hours
Prioritize Thing One by keeping Art Hours. If your friend wants you to go clubbing tonight (do people still go clubbing?), tell them that tonight is a work night for you, and that you’d love to do it on the night off that you’ve scheduled for such things as that. They may argue, but hold firm. Remember that you want to be a real live artist. Schedule some down time and some Art Time. You can paint on an off night if you want, but always Art during Art Hours.
What if there’s a special event that can’t be moved around, and it is scheduled during your Art Hours? Depends on what it is. If it’s important, like your child’s birthday, or inflexible and super special, like a concert, swap it for one of your normal days off from art. But be honest and actually move your Art Hours. And don’t make this a habit because you’ll start getting sloppy about keeping Art Hours.
As I said one of my side hustles is teaching about aggression in dogs. I loved that work for a long while, but one gets tired of working with unhappy dogs all the time. I had done enough work with them to have garnered a pretty generous cache of knowledge, so now I share that knowledge with people that are still in the trenches. That’s a way I can still contribute to the wellbeing of animals, something that is near and dear to my heart, but I can step away from some of the heartache that comes with working with troubled animals, even when your job is about helping them live happier lives.
These days I often paint the dogs of people that work with dogs, and that is a niche market for me. So I’ve been able to harness the knowledge of a former career into a support mechanism for my new career.
What do you know that you can lasso into that kind of a sweet deal?
Onward and Upward!
Check out some recent posts:
- Texture play in portraiture: #8 of 100 Kellie Snider’s 100 Faces Portrait Project
- Facial Differences: #7 of Kellie Snider’s 100 Faces Portrait Project
- Painting Children: #6 of Kellie Snider’s 100 Faces Portrait Project
- Memorial Portraits: #5 of Kellie Snider’s 100 Faces Portrait Project
- Portraiture Mentors: #4 of Kellie Snider’s 100 Faces Portrait Project