aaaah ;_; there are so many people doing so much more than me. I’m a no one and I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. ><
But presently yes, my art is my living. It isn’t any kind of a big living, but its still more than I ever thought I’d make??? I afford for myself to live, and I’m comfortable enough.
I feel lucky, I owe some gratitude to my parents. When I graduated college in 2009, I had no student debt. After graduation, I had a great internship, but really no prospects (2009 was just a dismal time to be ejected into the world.) So I moved home with my parents and stayed there for three years. It wasn’t a waste of time though! Initially I had some part time jobs. I’ve worked at Sears, at public and private libraries, and at frame shops (my favorite work was at frame shops!) And they were all okay jobs. But I started doing artist alleys at conventions. I stopped working part time at other peoples’ businesses when attending shows started taking off for me. At that time living with my parents was very helpful because I began investing every bit of money I could get into printing and AA tables.
I don’t really think exhibiting at shows should be my or anyone’s permanent living … but I like going to shows…? I don’t mind retail or talking to people. And I like making the art I sell, and more and more I like product design. I have no idea where any of this is taking me, but I guess I’m willing to throw myself into it and learn whatever presents itself to me.
Selling on etsy has also been really rewarding!
But I feel like when I was just starting, it was really hard to fathom how anyone could make money at a show selling prints or doing commissions or what..? I feel like I’ve discovered a lot of time saving things though.
Like, with my own art being my income, I really do a lot of shows and I sell a lot online. I sell more work this way than I would if I had a full time job. The higher volume of sales makes some alternatives viable that weren’t when I first started. Like I buy products in bigger bulk, I pay companies to create my product for me rather than attempting to create it by hand (I guess I’m thinking of buttons here.) Ultimately i save a lot of money and time by doing everything in bigger batches. I also feel I get a higher quality product when I pay the professional company to make my nice posters rather than taking myself to Office Max and praying that their printer will actually print the color blue (I haven’t found an office supply store yet that successfully prints the color blue.)
I also have made several life changes. I moved from a rural town in WA state to Baltimore MD. Living in Baltimore has really saved me SO MUCH TIME. I can travel to shows so much easier being closer to a big airport and I can drive to a lot of shows in the north east. It’s been really beneficial.
So just speaking personally, I think a great place to start selling art would be artist alleys at shows and etsy. Start small, making prints and things at Office Max (or wherever) but keep your eyes open for other opportunities. More shows, better places to make prints. If you’re currently working a job that can’t let you off for at least a show or two a year, then it might not be a good job to have. 8( I think it must be really difficult to have the safety of a job and to be looking at something very insecure like being an artist. But maybe you can somehow transition?? Like start selling your work, see if you’re making a profit, and then reduce your hours to part time.
It is just all definitely a process. Maybe a lot of people are successes very quickly. ;_; But for me it has taken years to earn even the most basic sort of living. I guess for now I don’t mind living without much luxury and investing any money I have in art things. >< I am just glad that I can spend every waking hour making whatever art I feel like!