Small business owner
Public relations manager
Back pain sufferer
Well while it's time off from formal teaching in an educational institution, it's not time off from hard work. Not only am I starting a small business to expand my capabilities of selling my own Art, I'm trying to continue to actually make Art while also attempting to dominate as a fundraiser for the Leukaemia Foundation. Yes I said DOMINATE!
I love that I can devote all of my thoughts, time and energy to my personal projects without the guilt of 'a real job' hanging above my head. What is a 'real job' anyway?? Is it something you have to do between fixed hours at least 5 days a week. Do you have to front up to a physical place of work and get paid a consistent wage to consider it a 'real job'? Do you consequently hate Mondays, refer to Wednesdays as 'hump day' and feel exhilarated when Fridays rock up? Because clearly I am not having to do any of those things and I am not feeling any of those emotions towards certain days of the week. I am however doing a hell of a lot of jobs!
I have observed a few interesting reactions to news of my current choice of lifestyle. Yes, for now I am calling it a lifestyle. Facial expressions of shock, delight, bewilderment and even disgust. Followed by questions; "Oh so you are not working!" "Why?" "What are you doing?" "Are you pregnant?" "Are you trying to get pregnant" Are you going on a holiday?" "Do you not enjoy teaching anymore?" "Do you not need the money?" "Are you unwell?"
I wish I could say I was getting used to these reactions and questions, but I am not. When I tell people that I have taken time off teaching to launch my Art practice as a business, I have had the following responses;
"Oh wow! That must be a dream come true!"
"Oh okay, so are you good at art?"
"So I knew you sold a few works, but I didn't realise you were doing that well."
"So you will be painting at home?"
"Good on you!"
"You know that you don't have to set up a business? You are technically a hobbyist?"
"I know someone that did that, it didn't work"
"So your paintings must be really expensive?"
"But what will you actually be doing?"
I guess I am surprised that so many people think that being an Artist equals 'failure'. I should not be surprised as I have dealt with these negative attitudes for a many number of years. As an Art student you are always encouraged to consider another pathway. So I chose Education. As an Art Teacher you are constantly challenged by students, colleagues and parents to explain the value of studying Art. People assume that there are very few opportunities available for artists to make money. I won't lie, I believe that Art is massively under valued in our society but I don't believe that means it is impossible for Artists to make a living. You have to make your own opportunities, just as you would in any area.
When I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I knew it had to involve Art. I didn't want to teach (initially, despite finding out later that I loved it) I wanted to just be an Artist. This was never well received by parents or teachers. They would say "It's very hard to be an Artist Tamara." They were not wrong!! It is extremely hard to be an Artist. Firstly you have to have time to do what you love most...which is to make ART. This often means turning off the television, getting off the Internet, getting out of bed a bit earlier, cleaning off your desk for space, not hanging out with your friends and family as much. For some these things are hard to do. For Artists this is what you must do! You don't make excuses unless you are genuinely blocked creatively...in which case you should then buy a copy of Julia Cameron's 'The Artist's Way' and read it.
I have to admit over the past two years I made 'making time to paint' a priority in my life. I would declare to my Husband "I am painting tonight!" "I am not going anywhere on the weekend, I am painting!" "I did not clean the house because I am painting!" "I don't have time to go the gym because I am painting!" Yes it's selfish and massively indulgent, but it was what I had to do to allow myself to do what I love most. I had a full time career, but if I didn't get to make Art I was unhappy.
Artists don't make much money! Some do and some don't. Few would have sold their first piece for what it was actually worth, but some have devoted their life to increasing the buyer's opinion of it's value. By that I do not mean they died and then their work sold or increased in value. Sadly for Vincent Van Gogh this was the case. What I mean is that many look for opportunities rather than waiting. They take them when they come, they might fail, they might succeed but they just keep on trying.
So I am doing my very best to get my artwork out there, online, on cafe walls, on restaurant walls, on dress shop walls, on hair salon walls, in exhibitions, in competitions, on gift cards, on T-shirts and ultimately on walls in permanent homes. Call me a whore if you want (well an Art Whore anyway) but just know that it is bloody hard work and believe it or not I am sometimes picky about where I will and won't hang my work. I am making up my own rules for my own approach to being an Artist and it absolutely involves hard work, devotion and belief in yourself.
Did I know it would be hard work?
Do I now get to lounge around in my PJ's and paint?
No. I at least have to shower first!
Am I loving it?
Could I do this full time?
Is it going well?
Am I making a lot of money?
Do I think I might never go back to teaching?
Do I want to give up teaching?
Am I good at what I do?
Yes, in my opinion. Which also happens to be the only opinion that really matters.