How much time do you spend on personal projects versus client work or your day job?
I’d say 60% commercial, 40% personal. It’s kind of hard to gauge because personal projects are always there, always lingering, always on some burner using a little bit of fuel. Whereas usually commercial projects are like, Okay, here’s a set chunk of time.
Not enough. I’d say it’s like a 30/70 split. So 30% personal and 70% for money.
I would say it’s maybe 60/40 — 60% working [for Alaska Pacific University]. I don’t know, if you had a pie, administrative stuff and that junk that you have to do would probably be 25% and then the rest is kind of more art-related and community engagement-type work.
I would say tattooing probably gets 80% of my time and then the rest would be fine art.
Tattooing gets most of my time because people are relying on me, it’s how I pay my bills. It’s pretty demanding. If I have a busy week I’ll spend 5 to 6 hours tattooing, come home, draw, have dinner, draw until one o’clock in the morning for the next day, repeat that cycle. That’s a hard week doing that every day until my day off. In those scenarios, I don’t get to paint at all, it’s the last thing I want to do when I come home.
The goal of every artist, I think, is you want to create what you want to create and you want people to buy that. But that’s really, really difficult.
Most of your paid work is going to be painting what someone else wants you to paint, no matter what type of artist you are. I’ve started to learn to find value in that, how to appreciate that. Maybe you’re painting something that you wouldn’t have otherwise or you’re learning techniques that you wouldn’t have otherwise. I don’t necessarily mind the balance.
I tell people all the time that I’m so fortunate that I get to paint for a living. I don’t really care what I’m painting. I get to paint. That’s fantastic no matter what. Even something where I hated the actual painting, I’m still painting. So it’s fine. I’m just happy to be doing what I’m doing.
That’s something I wish I could manage better. I would love to just be creating more but the amount of time I spend corresponding, uploading and digitizing photos, research or even doing legwork is overwhelming and surprising.
Everybody thinks I just sit here and just sloppily throw paint around, have fun and go get a beer at the brewery. But it’s pretty taxing. I get pretty stressed out. A lot of it is managing my time and figuring out business stuff.
I’ve taken online courses on business management for artists and that’s helped and I’ve had some takeaways but I still just feel like I’m kind of limping along.
Probably six to eight hours [at my day job and] I try and put in at least an hour of painting a day, even if it’s just in the morning or at night right before I go to bed. Just something so that I can have a little bit of progress on the pieces that I’m doing. When I’m doing mural projects, though, that usually takes up all of my time.
I’d say I spend the least amount of time painting and a lot of time trying to figure out how to respond to people or how to package. Like right now I have a package that I have to send to England and I guess there’s all of this customs paperwork that I never knew about. So now I have to sit down and spend time trying to figure out how to ship to England in time for my client’s daughter’s birthday.