Seriously, Who Doesn’t Love An Artist?
Published on October 26, 2015
Everything was set.
Lisa agreed to watch the cats. My mom took almost a month getting her house ready to babysit Nyla my dog. My boss reluctantly found a temporary replacement to fill my managerial duties and all my teaching positions had substitutes. Laura, the mother of my ex boyfriend, eagerly agreed to drive me to the airport in the morning with one condition: I had to stay the night at her house and let her cook breakfast for me.
I had $800 cash in my pocket, one backpack of clothes, a leather bound journal, pens up the kazoo, a snap-and-shoot camera with a few rolls of film, and a short list of hostels and phrases in Italian I was certain would be enough to get me by.
In the year 2002 I found tickets to Italy for dirt cheap. I asked just about everyone I knew if they were up for an Italy escapade and the excuses were plentiful. Other than Canada, I never journeyed outside of the US before, though my adoration for Italian art and my growing boredom with nursing my broken heart was not going to let me pass this opportunity by.
So late on a Tuesday night I purchased one round trip ticket to Italy and went to bed knowing my life was about to either shift or shatter.
I was 25 years old, living by myself in a crappy apartment, and juggling teaching jobs, making art, and managing a restaurant to simply get by. Taking a month off to walk around Italy was insane and honestly that’s all I had the money to really do — walk around. But I purchased the ticket anyways and started leaning into faith that somehow everything would work out.
Well, I take that back. I wasn’t leaning around.
That Wednesday I got up with the sunrise and started plotting, planning, and scheming ways to generate more money, spend less, and save enough to pull this shenanigan off.
I had one thing going for me: I believed that as an artist I was at a total advantage for generating money. The key was to channel my creative juices into ways that transform my gifts, skills, energy, and knowledge into nuggets of sweetness that others want to chew on.
Because seriously, who doesn’t love an artist?
Being passionate about being an artist is what has unlocked so many doors for me. Throughout my twenties I had tons of awesome teaching and art related jobs that never quite paid the bills on their own. So I moonlighted in restaurants as a manager, server, or bartender. But here’s the kicker — I always chose restaurants that would provide me with some kind of connection to artists or those that had a warm spot for us.
For example, I worked in a restaurant located in the heart of the arts district, later at a local bar that everyone-who-was-anyone fled to after art openings, and even one summer I got a little nutty and decided to be a cocktail waitress on a dinner cruise ship on Lake Erie. I felt at least having customers that were stuck on a ship with a pitcher of margaritas was fertile ground for me to stir some interest in what I do.
I learned early on that if I was going to make any money as an artist I needed to be creative, patient, passionate, and most of all open about sharing my story as an artist. I also learned that if I could loop others into my story by offering to teach, show them my work, create something for them, or just simply be willing to share my story, then hot damn — that’s how money changed hands.
Though let me tell you the real secret.
Generating money as an artist is never about you.
It’s not about your worth, your value, your talent, your skill, your style, your background, your confidence, or your training. It’s not about any of that.
Artists generate money by connecting others to the spark in their life.
Why do people buy art? It sparks beauty.
Why do people want to learn art? It sparks joy and curiosity.
Why do people want to hear what your life is like as an artist? It sparks that anything is possible.
Artists are here to serve that invisible spark everyone has. It’s called our hearts.
Back then I couldn’t really explain why I had to go to Italy so bad. I just knew it was important.
Though in retrospect I see that everything I’ve ever done and every silly risk I’ve taken as an artist has crafted who I am and has most of all strengthened my ability to serve the hearts of others which has paved the way to my success.
For most people this is a hard medicine to swallow. There were lots of people angry with me for excusing myself for a month to follow my dream.
Italy was where I started to purge some of that mental crap and confidently claimed myself as an artist. Sure there were other things that lead up to it such as the art and art history degrees I received the year before, all the teaching jobs I was stacking up, and even the fact that I was lucky to sell my art once-in-awhile.
But it wasn’t until that cold Cleveland night when I listened to the deeper wisdom of my own heart and actually did something about it that I slipped into my artist skin for good.
Are you ready to slip into your Artist skin? Are you passionate about helping others slip into their artist skin as well?
Then I invite you to join me in IGNITE next year.
Space is filling fast.
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