Did your art-school education teach you anything about the business side of being an artist?
Oh, god, no. [Laughter] [When I went to school it] was a different time when freelancing was looked down upon, nobody really did it. The school only wanted you to graduate and get a full-time job at some firm or somewhere, so they didn’t really prepare you for working on your own. You never had to take business classes because it was just understood that you’d graduate, get a full-time job with a 401k, health, dental, everything. You’d have one W-2 to do your taxes and that was it.
My problem was that by the time I graduated I knew I didn’t want a full-time job because I hated all the ones I had. Actually, there was one that was great, they really helped me out over some years. But it also showed me I didn’t want a full-time job because I was able to keep leaving and coming back, leaving and coming back and the company would keep hiring me again. So it was like, This is great, why would I want a full-time job?
Taxes are the killer. Because I used to go to H&R Block out of college and walk in there with eight 1099s and they would have no idea what to do. One year I made $13,000 out of college and they had me owing $6,000. I was like, This is not right.
That’s something I hope they teach now because with contract work and freelance, because it’s maybe 40% of the workforce now? So it’s something everybody needs to know.
College did not prepare us for business [he got a sculpting degree]. We all joke about it.
What I would have liked to have learned in college about business practices is the reality of being an artist and that it is very difficult to try and find work. If you’re actually going to go look for work, that’s hard to do. How do you do it? I don’t know how to do it.
But learning a little more practicality in regards to business, like save your money, start a 401(k) [a retirement savings plan]. I mean, money is important to perpetuate your art career. If you have the necessities taken care of, then you can have freedom to be an artist. But at times there are dry spells, you know? And you’re like, What the crap, how am I going to pay rent this month? I have to hock some painting somehow, reach out to people, I’m not sure. And that’s where the business side comes into play. Do I promote and say, Hey, I got a sale on my line drawings this week only? I don’t know what the answer is to any of this stuff, I’m still trying to figure it out.
Oh, no, none. It’s something I never even thought about, either. They didn’t even tell us how to hook up with galleries or price things. They just taught us how to draw the figure in a certain way and how to paint a landscape and mix colors and stuff. That was it. But actually how to make a living at it? Zero. I mean, money and selling stuff, how to get a gallery – that was always so confusing to me.