How did you make the transition to doing art full time? What did you do to prepare?
Well, I’ve done math. I think you just have to crunch numbers and make sure this is something you can do based on recent history. I looked at my budget, cut back on certain things.
There are websites with email lists I’ve added myself to that will tell me when there’s public art or any art opportunities for me. . . .
And I can’t overstate the importance of just being in the arts community. You can look at it in different ways. I don’t think of it as networking when I’m out there, but I know that’s what’s happening too. It’s good to go out and meet people, introduce yourself and be comfortable talking about your own artwork, which is a really tricky thing for a lot of artists to do.
I was actively selling art on the side for about 3 years while still working as a full-time web designer and developer.[Then] there were rumors that the company I was working at was going to have a massive layoff of 30-50% of the company. I had about 2 days to mentally prepare myself and set up a portfolio to get freelance art work. I ended up being one of the people affected by the layoff.
After 12 years in the web industry, I was super burned out and was ready to try and make a full-time go of being an artist. It has been touch and go a lot of the time. It definitely wasn’t the way I’d recommend starting out.
A part of why I wanted to leave Armada was because I was at a point where I didn’t want to design five days a week and paint two days a week or paint at night. So my goal was to leave because I have a design background and that’s going to easily support me, and then just try to make my work 50-50 — three days of designing and maybe three days painting.
I’ve essentially worked two full-time jobs for the whole past year. I was doing freelance design, fine art and Armada. I was working more weekends than I wasn’t and kind of hoping there would be a means to an end. Then finally I saw enough lined up and enough opportunity to know I could support myself if I left, even if I didn’t get freelance contracts with Armada. So I decided the time is now.
I’ve already estimated my salary for the year. It’s obviously not equivalent to my salary with benefits and all my freelancing income from last year, but I’m already projecting to match my salary at Armada this year.
I did all the math, lined up two big contracts with decent retainers and I’ll survive after that, no problem. If I sell art or get any other jobs, which I know I could, it would kind of just be a bonus.
I was working full time as a designer and photographer for City Weekly, and then when I got the commission for the Granary I was given a lot of money – $30 a square foot, which is $15,000. I didn’t have time to paint the mural while doing my full-time job, so it became time for me to move on from my full-time job. It took me a month and a half to complete the mural with it being my only job. So if I had kept my full-time job, it would have taken me 3 months to do.
The mural was a stepping stone to becoming a full-time artist. If I look back at all the other things I’ve done, everything was a stepping stone to get to that point.