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Being an artist is a lot like a rollercoaster ride. Here is what to do about it.

Being an artist is a lot like being on a rollercoaster. There are ups and downs but all of it thrilling. Thrilling can be seen as a negative with all its stress and fears. Who would want to go through that? Well, those very things can feel positive. It is understood that in order to enjoy the ride you simply accept that those stresses are part of it. Notice how most people feel exhilarated coming off the rollercoaster. In fact we tend to rush, now a days, to see what we looked like during those hairy pin turns in the photos posted as you walk out of the ride. Most people have fun.

As artist we can have stretches of time when all is great. You can have paintings, like I did, flying all over the world to live in a new homes. Your bank account can be flush with cash, no credit card debts, maybe a bit of a surplus for fun things or investments. That’s how it was for me right after my first solo show in 2005: a sold out show, some local write ups, attention, more interest in my work. This is the exhilarating aspect of the ride. Even to the point that a couple of paintings from that very first show would eventually be part of the permanent collection of a major museum and later another painting was picked up by yet another museum. YAY! Right?

Then there are those dips. Yep we have to confront those very real negative feelings that come with this career. For me, after flying high for a few years, buying a modest little condo in a nice town, got married, started a family, it felt like life was just groovy! Then it seemed like the music stopped (que record screetching to a halt) a new twist and turn appears.
Sales slow (I think we sold just one painting in 2009 and in December! And it felt like forever to get payment that was desperately needed) I started a career as an adjunct professor only because the promise I had to be a full-time professor floated away. So I took up teaching part-time for EVERY damn college or University that was within a gas guzzling distance. (I actually had to stop working at one that I really liked because we figured that I was paying more for fuel than they were actually paying me)
The gallery that represented me had a change in management and I was no longer a fit to its programming. These things happen but oh it can be challenging times. And they are.

These are the times that you may contemplate quitting. Just put the brushes down and begin a new career. At least this is what I said and I said it out-loud. Sometimes you have to. There are those around you that would love nothing more for you to stop struggling and have “common sense” and just get a job with all its “security” like 401k, health insurance, blah blah blah. For their sake go ahead and just mouth the words of quitting. We know how they feel. Look! We are the most observant, sensitive people on the planet. We knew how you felt a long time ago about our choices in life. Sometime we must try to make THEM feel better about our STRESS! LOL

Do you want to know the secret to what to do during these trying times? Do you want to know how you come out of this just fine? (Even as I write this I am getting ready to ship two paintings just sold)Yeah, me too! Post a comment and tell me! LOL actually I do have a method. Here it is: NOTHING! Yep like a Seinfeld episode I do NOTHING! Let me elaborate: NOTHING means having dumb FAITH in yourself. YES I know what could be going wrong in your career. It has been happening to me and I suspect challenges will always come. So what!? Life’s challenges are guaranteed. Why would you run away from that thing you know deep inside is what you are here to do? Sometimes you have to give lip service to those around you that wouldn’t dare go down an unknown path like you did. They will say, privately and to you about how dumb you are, how can you be so selfish, think of your family (Like we haven’t already thought of that)”Do art at night, as a hobby, on the weekends” they say. Yeah when? When my kids are asleep? After I go to your parents’ third cat’s 5th birthday party? GET ATTA HERE! (In your best New York City or Jersey accent!)
DO NOTHING! It means keep on picking up the brush and pencil. Keep going to the studio. Keep asking for the sale. Keep on trying new things. Write a post about it  Don’t stop. Keep improving. Keep learning. Because you know what happens on this rollercoaster. It twists, it turns, it drops, it slows down and the whole damn ride is actually FUN!
Collection of PAMM
Perez Art Museum Miami


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