A lot of people ask me how I started my business/career as an artist. Some are asking for advice, some are looking for inspiration, some curious.. but please remember - we all will need something different! It's about trial and error... and finding the way that works best for you... but here is my story.
also - what does it really mean to 'make a living'?
to me, making a living it quite literal.. LIVING. Life is for enjoying and making the most of, you can not fail if you do what you love. This doesn't need to mean it's your career. But if you can work with what you're passionate about, great! Even if you attempt it for a short while. You gave it a go and that is the most important thing. Living in the moment. Right now is all we have, and the past and future are just illusions in time...
fear is often the biggest thing holding us back. Fear of failure, ridicule, loss.. but without this we may not grow..
failure is how we learn - ridicule will happen no matter how successful you are - and loss is inevitable.
"if you want something enough, you will find a way. If you don't, you will find an excuse."
Ok... so back to the question. How did it start..?
It it started as a hobby, from my love of art. The first market I did was on December 6th, 2015 (one month after I returned home from a 1.5 year long solo travel trip to Europe, morocco and turkey, which I spontaneously left for at the age of 18 right after finishing high school).
this market (well, car boot sale) was a bit of fun. I was selling some art along with my friend Allie who was selling cake (www.earthcakes.com). The first artworks I sold were two small pieces, a red mandala and a cactus, framed, for $15 each; I was over the moon.
we started doing local markets every weekend, sometimes travelling to Newcastle or doing small markets on the central coast. It was a lot of fun, so I invested some money into more art materials, some public liability insurance and started painting... A LOT. Every day. At this stage I was only making original art, selling the framed pieces for no more than $40! I was also sewing purses and planting succulents in cute pots to make a bit of extra money. Allie stopped doing markets after a couple of months, so I needed to make these investments If I wanted to keep going.
the money I made was minimal and I was still living at home and working a full time job at a cafe.
the three month PL insurance ran out in March, and I decided I wanted to keep going, just for one more year - so I renewed it for another year. I always planned that when my insurance ran out in march 2017, I said I'd travel again...... nope...! I was quickly realising that I was creating something pretty amazing. Strangers, people, book writers, art lovers… I was getting a lot of attention, and people were asking me to make Art for them! And they were paying me… Even better! They valued and liked my art so much that they were willing to pay. This was foreign to me. But I began to open up to all of the different ways that you can make money from art. I was commissioned to paint artworks for homes, illustrate a book, and so many other things… This was super exciting to me.
When I saw my hobby turning into more than just a little side job, I quit my job (March/april 2016) so that I could put full attention into my art, I registered as a business in June, and would spend countless hours working on my art, stocking up on materials, I bought a car that would allow me to carry my market gear (gazebo, tables, boxes of frames and art and bits and pieces..) .
I started applying for markets in Sydney, Newcastle.. bigger, more known markets, I got into Glebe, Bondi, The Rocks, The Olive Tree, Kirribilli markets... this gave me a lot of confidence.
My art was, and still is, drastically changing and evolving.
It was the middle of winter by the time I started doing Sydney markets, cold and dark and driving from the central coast as 5am was getting tough... so i would drive to Sydney on Friday night, sleep in my car, Glebe markets Saturday, sleep in my car, Bondi markets Sunday... home... yep, I'd sleep along the front seats of my packed full-of-art-stuff car and shower at the Bondi pavilion freezing public showers! Despite having to wear layers and layers to bed, the cold showers, car sleeps in public, I secretly loved this...
i started being more 'business smart'. I made investments into quality materials, bought my own printer... and then I made the big move to Sydney! This was the greatest investment. I moved to Bronte in Late July 2016, to a share flat, had a tiny room, but I finally had my own space. I needed space for me. Sleeping with my mum or in the lounge room for months was starting to take its toll.... I did have a small bedroom for a couple of months before moving out, but by this time I really didn't want to live at home any more - 6 months back after being away for 1.5 years was enough. I moved to a beautiful beachside town, bronte, and crated the lifestyle of my dreams. And I'm now in a different, but even more amazing, perfect, home in Bronte.
It was a bit of a risk suddenly paying a fair bit of rent, bills and food, rather than just my board at mums house, so I started nannying on nights and during the week. This was a good move, it gave me financial security and the main reason I did this was so that I was not selling my art for money. I didn't want to be money focused. I didn't want to put ANY pressure on my art business. So I nannied just enough to pay my rent and a bit more, and my markets would pay for themselves.
if I made a profit, great, if not, that's fine... I almost always made a profit. If I wasn't making a profit by this time, I may have tried a different avenue to make art my career - or maybe I would have kept it a hobby and followed another path to make money (my other dream was a vegan Art gallery/cafe- maybe one day!) markets do not work for everyone. But EVERYONE can find a way to do what they love.. I quit nannying in October/November 2016.
Little did I know, this little hobby was the start of something big -and it still is the start. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go. But for the past 16 months I have worked harder and more than I have since starting work when I was 15.
Yes, I've had a lot of 'normal' jobs and dreams, I got my first job at 15 and have worked since then. Ive been financially independent since I was 15, but more so since I was 18 when I left home. I paid for all my travels and all of my business costs. I am smart with my money and my time, I've worked full time (50+ hours a week) while paying ridiculous rent in west London, and I've been caught in a rut and become totally depressed and lost, but I got out of it when I recognised it, I at least reminded myself that it was only temporary and promised myself to make changes when I could..
Some of of the biggest things that's helped me create this life for myself are
- Not being money focused
- believeing in myself
- continuing even when i was ridiculed and laughed at (yes - this happened the first time I told someone I was quitting my job to be an artist!!)
- a lot of hard work
- Finding MY way - not copying others or trying to be something/someone I'm not.
- POSITIVITY, GRATITUDE, SELF VALUE/LOVE!!!
I have absolute faith in every single one of you.
if you feel like you can't or don't want to make your creative passion, or whatever it is, your career, then don't - but ALWAYS practice it. Creativity keeps us sane, driven, passionate... never lose sight of what you love, and always make time for it. be in control of your own life. Don't be afraid to break free of the system. Make it a life that you absolutely love.
Travel. Love. Express. Be real..
Have a beautiful day.