business

I have worked a lot of jobs. At age eighteen I went to college to study theater, writing, comics, and dance, with the dream that I’d make it work somehow– I’d find a way to make a living at this crazy thing called Art. So I never committed myself to a full-time job. I worked multiple part-time jobs at once, scrounging for any little bit of time to draw and write. I drew comics in the box office and the projection booth at move theaters. I wrote short stories in emails to myself at receptionist desks. I sketched on the subway, worked on story ideas at babysitting gigs after the kids went to bed, wrote in diners at 6am. I lived close to the bone, making just enough money to survive.

While living in New York City I walked around to comic book shops asking them to sell my little self-published mini comics, and got feedback from store owners about how to make them look more professional. I modeled for life drawing classes. I submitted to short story competitions. I volunteered at MoCCA Fest in exchange for a couple hours of table time selling my comics. Any small way to make a tiny amount of dough from my art.

March 1st marks my one year anniversary of being “self-employed.” I quit my job to be a full-time artist and stay-at-home mom (we need a better term for this). So, how do I make money?

The short answer is that I don’t make very much. I am fortunate to have a partner who believes in me, believes in my work as an artist, and takes on the responsibility of supporting our family financially. This is the first time I have not supported myself completely since college. It’s hard sometimes, to reconcile this fact in my head, that my husband supports me financially.

But the truth is, if I were to go work at a job I wouldn’t make enough to pay for daycare or to make it worth it to not be home with my baby. And I would likely be sad and unfulfilled. So instead, I stay home and take care of Giles, which is a very important contribution to our family. And twice a week my mother-in-law takes care of him at her house so I can do my artwork.

Art Work. It is really, really wonderful that my only work (besides being a mom) is making art. It is also really hard. In the first couple months of Full-Time Artist Life I made just as much money as I did at my previous job. I taught a comics workshop, sold a few commission portraits, sold some drawings from an exhibit. Art income often comes in windfalls like that– for a few months I will sell a bunch of things, and then there will be long dry spells.

These are the ways I make money:

Teaching: this is relatively new to me. Last year I taught a five week Autobiographical Comics workshop for adults at a local art school. I am about to start teaching another workshop with the same school. This is a really nice way to make some money, the highest hourly wage I have ever been paid in my life– about $25/hour. It’s also inspiring, working with students and seeing their ideas and growth. A great way to make money in my field that is truly connected to what I love. It’s also a lot of work, and takes time and energy away from making my own things.

Commissioned Portraits: this is something I’ve been doing for a while. I don’t get a lot of commissions. Most art from people I know, friends and family. On my Etsy site I offer portraits, holiday cards, and invitations. Commission work can be tricky– early on I learned to be very clear with customers about what I do, what my style is, and that I will not copy the work or style of other artists. I change my prices pretty often, never sure of how much to charge, balancing how much I value my time with how much someone will realistically pay me.

Exhibits: these can be great or not so great. It’s a lot of work (and often expense) to put up a show and there’s no guarantee that I’ll sell anything. It can be fun, and it sure feels good to sell work off the wall. It can also be disappointing, and exhausting to smile and make small talk at openings, to hang and rehang work, to sell myself. My favorite part about doing exhibits is when someone I don’t know responds to a piece I made, and especially when they buy it.

Selling Other Stuff: I also make and sell t-shirts, tote bags, cards, etc. This is more intermittent, for example, when I have a specific idea for a shirt design and enough money to make a bunch of them up front. Then I sell them on my Etsy site until they run out. Shirts are hard because I never know how many of each size to print ahead of time, and often end up with leftover sizes that no one wants. Because of this, sometimes I will wait to actually print the shirts until I have several pre-orders. Cards are the easiest because they are cost-effective (they aren’t expensive to make, so I can charge less and still make a small profit. I’m a big believer in affordable art).

My ultimate goal is to get an agent and a publisher and have my comic books and short story collections published and for sale at stores. To contribute financially to my family and have lots of people read my work. The way that I am making this happen is by putting my work out into the world any way I can. Posting my comics on my blog, selling at indie comic conventions, submitting stories to magazines– just putting it out there and putting it out there. I am a big believer in doing things myself. I don’t like to rely on other people’s approval. If I can’t find someone else to publish my comics, I make them into books myself and find a way to sell them. I just keep going, keep making the work, keep sharing it, and things will happen.

Other artists make their livings in different ways, have different methods and different measures of success. This is how I work.

I’d like to give a special shout out here, to my dad. I often write about my mom on this blog, and how she is part of my artistic life. But my dad has always supported me– emotionally and creatively, even financially when I’ve found myself in a tough spot. He is the BEST exhibit hanging partner, audience member, and starred in an early short film I made. He may claim to be the non-creative person in our family, but he is an artist in life, in his own work, and in being a dad. I owe him a lot. So, thanks Pops. I love you.

Advertisements

cheesy comics

One of the projects I’m currently working on is very cheesy– illustrating an instructional comic book on how to make cheese! Suzy Konecky, a lovely woman and local cheesemaker (among other things) invited me on board this past fall, and we’ve just completed the first draft of our first chapter: Milk Components. Hopefully lots of great things will come of this, and I’ll keep you informed. But for now, here are a few photos of the book and us at WCMA’s Publication Studio where we printed and bound the chapter.

me & suzy with bookchapter 1 milk componentscheese comic page

holiday gift sale

Hey guys and gals. I’m sure, like me, you have all started looking for gifts for all the lovely people in your life, and I’d like to suggest browsing Etsy. There’s all sorts of cool, handmade stuff that you can buy directly from artists.

Here’s a link to my Etsy Shop where you’ll see I’ve got plenty of interesting items. For instance, my Movies Are My Religion t-shirt is on sale for only $20 right now! I’ve also got some mini comics, tote bags, and custom art! You can commission a hand-drawn holiday card, a portrait of your cat or favorite human. There are many options.

Thank you for supporting art and artists this holiday season!

work-in-process

I’m in the middle of a lot of new things. Writing, comics, things without a label yet. Here’s a look at my desk right now:

comics in progress

 

Hopefully I will have more to share with you soon. But it’s this in-process place that I love. And it’s necessary. The ideas need to marinate, I do one thing at a time, eventually the final product becomes clear. It’s the same way with being a person. You don’t know what all the little things are going to add up to until after. And you have to feel the uncertain feelings.

I’m also doing the important work of being a fiancee, like making pinterest boards, reading wedding blogs, talking giddily to family and friends, looking at Greg with doe eyes, visiting venues together, talking about music and food. It’s an interesting place to be– a fiancee. The only time I’ll be one, and for just a year, until I become a wife.

 

school for style

Hey all you locals– some of my stuff is now available at the School for Style in their new location at 20 Spring Street! Cat Cards, and several of my comics: Shelf Life (#1-3), Fish Dreams, and some mini cancer comics.

Anne Kennedy has done a lovely job with the store’s new location, and just as before, she breathes life and color into the community. Check out her awesome selection of vintage and handmade clothes, accessories, locally made jewelry, all kinds of great stuff. And while you’re there, take a look at my comics and cards!

photo-17photo-15IMG_0865FD-1Photo on 2013-03-15 at 17.15

custom digital valentines

cat valentine  Looking for a unique digital valentine to email your sweetie? I’ve just added Custom Digital Valentines to my etsy shop.

I recently drew this portrait of Chad and Sarah: Chad & Sarah A lovely couple with a sweet story, and I really enjoyed drawing them in their favorite spot on their red couch. A Custom Couple Portrait is a great gift for any occasion.

And if you live in Williamstown, MA, here’s another great idea: Big Screen Valentines 

 

holiday shopping

If you’re working on your holiday shopping, here are some ideas:

Comic Books

Tote Bags

Custom Drawings (FYI: I make custom holiday portraits which you can use as your holiday card to send to all your friends and family– a fun, artsy alternative to the traditional holiday photo.)

Cat Cards will be available soon!

Support your local artists! Buy cool stuff that people make!

IMG_7268 Cats like portraits too!

 

 

 

typewriter dreams tote bags now available!

 

 

Go to my etsy shop to order!

typewriter tote 1

Will fit all your secret love notes and/or 1 bunch of kale.

typewriter tote 2

The perfect gift for your favorite writer/dancer/artist/teacher/doctor/photographer/movie theater worker/grad student/co-op shopper friend or the hep cat/nerd within you.

typewriter tote 3Yup, that’s the very typewriter who modeled for the drawing. She’s going to keep her extra ribbons in it.