You read the name of this correctly. Quit your art. This time last week, that's exactly where I was at.
It all started, well - honestly, when I moved to Atlanta in January.
I knew starting out that art for a job would be difficult. I basically tried talking myself out of it every way possible. I mean, I was just helping people raise money. I didn't want the responsibility of a business. I am not good at business. I just like helping people and making art. Mostly, I was just afraid to fail. I didn't want to be a loser. I had felt like that a lot in my life, why put myself in that position on purpose?
It took several years to finally get a stride in Columbus, so moving to Atlanta I knew meant starting over. Not only that, but starting over in an area that is already flooded with artist and "sip-n-strokes" instructors. But, you know, I am stubborn. So why not give it a go? But being the new kid, in an already overly saturated market, in a town that has many other artist more talented? Stubborn or not, that really was a tough blow.
I posted flyers, did Facebook ads for classes in the area, free art drops; all the things I had learned and been doing to get class interest in Columbus. Nothing was working. Anytime I reached out to people about classes at venues - if they even answered me back, said they had someone already or just "no."
That failure and loser feeling was creeping back in.
I started painting things I thought people would like for classes and posting them to get interest in the area. Once interest started I would sort out the venue situation and have class. Again, same thing I have always done. But nothing. Not only was there nothing but I had started painting things I didn't even like - didn't believe in and for that reason things that weren't good. I was selling out. Selling out was worse than failure to me at this point.
So I made it a point to scale back on my efforts. I even posted a video to that affect. Strangely enough, shortly after that, people seemed to be blowing me up. Less so with classes but with commissions. I'll take it. Faith in myself and what I was doing was again restored.
For a little while. Then came the t-rex.
This is both literal and metaphorical. The t-rex was in fact a commission but also the huge part in why I was quitting.
If you follow me on social media, you have seen this fellow. An acrylic and marker, 30X40, canvas piece that I had put about 20 hours into completing. If I am being honest, it was for a friend. For her wedding. It was going to be the guest book.
I was so proud of it.
It sounds so obvious that I would say that but generally I am not really satisfied with my work. Especially by the end. I just kind of hate it by then. But not this time.
This time I was impressed.
What was not so impressive was my shipping of this piece. My friend lived an hour away. I finished this piece about two and a half weeks before her wedding. We tried to schedule a time to catch up for her to get the painting but none worked. I opted to mail the piece and got her address. Things got a bit hectic and I delayed on mailing the rex. I am mortified to admit I waited until the week OF the wedding. I asked if she'd rather I just take the painting to the venue, which was very close to my house. I guess I didn't word that well, like much of this ordeal, she said to just mail it.
So, I mailed it that week and then billed.
This isn't how I usually function. I make it a point to get art out the door once it's done or purchased. Not this time. I am not sure why. Understandably, my friend seemed a bit peeved (I couldn't blame her - she had enough on her plate). So, with a sick feeling in my stomach I canceled the invoice, deleted my art facebook, and deleted every photo of my work on my personal facebook for the last year.
I was actually done.
Done stressing about how to promote, how to get sales, about busting it on classes that don't make, about trying to be this "artist." It wasn't fun and it wasn't worth it. Time to stop kidding myself. Focus on the job that pays the bills and stop chasing a fairy tale. I was just, done.
I prayed, like I usually do when this feeling of doubt about my art happens. I prayed one last time for a sign that this was the right thing. Quitting. I had put my heart into this art thing for years now. I felt like it was an actual break-up. It hurt. So I prayed and went to bed depressed.
That next morning I had a text about teaching a class in November, saw my work posted on a business facebook by someone I had done work for in Columbus and a co-worker saw my work and was in awe.
I should have been happy about all of this but I was just more frustrated and confused. It had been so simple! I was quitting. Now I was hopeful again. Now I wanted to try a millionth and one time.
Artist are such masochist.
As always, I have no clue the future of this venture. I just know, it looks like, it will continue for a bit longer. Ask me tomorrow how I feel about that. I am still deciding.