How to Create in the Face of Adversity
I am not an artist who makes money from my art, unfortunately. But I hope to be on day... whatever that might mean. The idea that an artist can make money from their art is a highly elusive one, not a one-size-fits-all deal. In fact, I recently had little to no income and therefore had to shut down my studio practice. But that difficult time has passed and I've moved on to creating new and different work.
Not many artists talk about the creative process as a function of mental health and financial health. The truth is if you are rich or have steady and sufficient income, it is probably easier to make art. Similarly, if you are goal oriented, manage time effectively, and more or less emotionally supported, the same goes.
In any case, an artist must make money. While in graduate school, I had a great fellowship that supported me but I also had a part time gig delivering food. It was a pretty sweet job because the hours were low and the tips were sometimes great. Right now, I am about to start driving for ride share companies and I am also driving for a food delivery company. I don't mind driving and I love working for myself so it works out for me. Also, it allows me to have time and energy to create art. In all my free time, I am doing the most possible to help my creative work. This means many things but the most important factor is always to keep that creativity and productivity alive. How does an artist create and continue to create? What drives me and what 'inspires' me to make art? This is an essential question that every artist must answer for herself and continually re-invent the answer as life changes and you grow as a person and as an artist.
Immediately after graduate school, I researched the heck out of this. I discovered an amazing author, psychotherapist and coach named Eric Maisel. His many books cover topics from creativity, mental health, writing and his very own specialization of creativity coaching. I read his book called The Van Gogh Blues first and I was incredibly touched. I admired Van Gogh's paintings for a long time and was intensely curious about the artist's life. In the Van Gogh Blues, Maisel touches on the idea that depression is a driving force in artists' lives and that only by understanding and harnessing the power of the need to create meaning does an artist stand a chance to be happy, fulfilled and overcome depression.
So, in light of these questions and to share what I have learned, I have assembled a kind of toolkit or list of recommendations for learning more about the creative process, mental health and financial health. Below I have provided links to books, podcasts and websites.
Please note that the biggest factor for an artist's success will ALWAYS be her community so regularly attending art events, exhibition openings, talks, etc., is very important. So first of all I recommend finding reliable and local event listings using Google and Facebook. (Both are essential!)
Eric Maisel's The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path Through Depression
Eric Maisel's Fearless Creating: A Step-by-Step Guide To Starting and Completing Your Work of Art
Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
Lynda Barry's Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor
Gaby Dunn's Bad with Money: Bad with Money
Alyson Stanfield's Art Biz Podcast
Two Coats of Paint