Tuesday, February 8, 2011

When Making a Living and Making Art Collide

Like many working artists, I have a variety of revenue streams from which I make my living. Art sales alone are not enough...yet.  In addition to teaching and conducting workshops, I do occasional graphic design projects (my livelihood before taking the leap).  The challenge for me is to be disciplined in how I carve up the time, in order to stay consistent with my studio practice and maintain my networking and marketing efforts. I've been pretty successful at doing this despite the inevitable ebb and flow of the outside work and associated deadlines. But the past few weeks have been different. A feast of graphic design has hit me, along with an unusual illustration commission (see above) and my time has been fragmented and consumed beyond control. Regular studio practice has suffered and so has my daily work on little oils (also a good source of revenue).

The image here is a portion of a 9 X 12 illustration for a new line of tortilla chips. I have also designed the new retail bags (3 varieties). This is one of three such illustrations to be done. I'm drawing from life in colored pencil in a style I haven't used in a very long time. Typically I'm striving to resist detail!

So, as I look yearningly and excitedly at all the new paintings I have underway, I need to keep reminding myself that this will pass, and the resulting cash will sustain me for several months. Then I can paint with abandon.

As insecure and unpredictable as this way of life is sometimes, I wouldn't trade it for anything else.


  1. I think I'm eating these as we speak....pass the salsa, please.
    Must be the illustration that is drawing me to them!

  2. Linda -

    I find that these different kinds of creative venues can inform each other in interesting ways. I've been heavily immersed in folk art for a while and have wondered if the painter in me is going to come out to play. But the study of the folk art has taught me so many things that I did not learn in art school. Artists have often had to have one stream of income (graphic design, illustration, teaching, sometimes factory work) to support their painting time. I was especially interested to find out that Rodin designed doll heads at one time in his life.

    I'm glad your workshop went well. :-)

  3. Yes, Dixie I agree. I think everything we do, even non art-related tasks inform our art making. I think it was Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet who advised that one needs all kinds of life experience to make meaningful art/poetry. I need to keep reminding myself about that from time to time. I didn't know that about Rodin...thanks for posting, and for reading.

  4. Enjoy your opportunities. It keeps life interesting and apparently food on the table. I like your chips!

    Hi. I'm from Poland Spring...

  5. Thanks, Susan. Yes, it keeps life interesting indeed. I look forward to looking at your work.