The Fabulous Life of an Artist

Lately I’ve been wondering “what’s the point?” because I’m definitely not one of the lucky few who actually make a living at art — I break even. If I am in the black, it is enough to get the ever slightly better frames sometimes. Everything goes back into the art; supplies, shipping costs, promo materials, studio rent, you name it. The only reason I can even do what I am doing now is because I have a husband with good job that he can’t stand, and we live in a cheap city. If we were back in Los Angeles, or Boston, I’d be neglecting my art as I was then because of having to work one or more jobs just to stay afloat; I’d be too damn tired, pissed off, or stressed to even get to it and the work suffered except for a few fortunate pieces. It is true, my art got better once I was able to do it full-time, but this, will not be a situation that lasts forever.

I’ve been wondering if I should have just done the film editor thing, real estate agent thing, joined the FBI or find something else to “do” before I get too old. The problem is I get bored so easy that I’ve never stayed at one job for more than two years, tops. The older I get the thought of jumping from office job to retail, to bartending to whatever else I’ve done depresses the hell out of me. Let’s face it, I’m not good at much except for film and art, and I don’t have a patron who will take care of me for the sake of supporting someone who contributes to culture. Think about it: an artist who sells out a show at $100,000, take away 50% for the gallery (if you are lucky enough to even be paid your half!), another chunk of change for taxes, more for supplies, and really they make about as much as an administrative assistant — without benefits. I always wondered how artists have money to travel all over the place, even for group shows. I’m going to Art Basel Miami for a whole 2 days and I really have no business doing that. Maybe there are more trust fund babies and people with rich spouses than I thought in the world? Or maybe I’m just better at not living beyond my means. Jim Shaw once complained to me about how he had to spend money flying to Paris for a museum show he was in, and that everyone except him just showed installation pieces that looked really expensive to make and they must all be rich. I didn’t understand why he was complaining about it, but now I do.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to teaching in January because maybe it will get me out of this mindset. It will also be something I’ve never done before in the way I have it set up, so it will be a little journey for me as well; there’s a big difference in teaching a class full of young girls fashion illustration, and doing one-on-one oil painting lessons with everyone from teenage boys to adults. I have no shows planned or anything going on after March (unless any galleries out there wanna offer me something?), and maybe it will be time for a break, who knows?

On a happier note, my former visiting professor at CalArts, Richard Wright, has been nominated for the Turner Prize. He was one of the few visiting artists we had who was totally awesome and not full of you-know-what. He had good taste, could actually draw, and his talks made sense. It doesn’t hurt that I totally had a crush on him too! Hey, at least I didn’t cuss him out and storm out of his class like I did with Raymond Pettibon.

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2 Responses to “The Fabulous Life of an Artist”


  1. 1 kseverny 11/09/2009 at 8:50 pm

    a fabulous life indeed.
    i too want to do art profesionally but to make a living i will have to add marketing/avertising to the mix


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