The scary transition to being a full-time artist

I have wanted to be a full-time artist since I was 16. Now, at 60, I am being laid off from a good job. Getting by on what will be available to me financially is very scary. But I am taking the risk of trying to make it work.

Last weekend at the studio, facing my canvases after deciding to paint full time, I was riddled with doubt. Am I really good enough? Even if I am good enough, will I be able to survive? A recipe for creative constipation. Of course, I painted anyway - that is what I do.

This will be a journal of my transition through this challenging and life-changing event.

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Comment by Jay Zerbe on September 17, 2012 at 1:22pm

i guess i did pretty poorly on making this "a journal on my transition". sorry! after i really started painting full time, it took over my life.

Comment by Jay Zerbe on September 17, 2012 at 1:20pm

thanks Mary! i really didn't have much of a choice. i guess the great update to this post is that since i posted it, i have moved east from chicago into northern indiana. country living compared to anything i have had in the past. my partner designed the house, and it is perfect. i have a beautiful studio with lots of north light, and a view across our meadow of an old farmhouse. although i have depleted my 401k getting here, as least i can live on, and still support creating canvases with social security (which i had to take at 62 to keep food in the house) and a small pension from my former employer, i can get by here where taxes are low, and prices just a BIT less than in chicago. so this was a reminder to be grateful for what i have, vs complaining about lack of sales! i am living the life.

Comment by Mary Miller on September 17, 2012 at 9:51am

Jay, I admire your courage.  I am rapidly approaching 60, have a day job and commute that wear me out and wish I had the guts to do what you are doing.  You have done much more than me--if someone likes your work, you are a success. I hope it's not too late for me.

Comment by Ann Hamilton on April 1, 2009 at 9:28pm
Jay, In the early 1990's my entire world changed--especially my finances. The best thing that came from this was having the time to develop as an artist. Now, I am confidant in myself and my style. It hasn't been easy but I would not change a thing, and there is much good to be said about living frugally. My newest venture is opening an art retreat in my home. Check out my web site: http://artforartloversretreat.net it might inspire you. Don't worry about being good enough--of course you are..you already know that. Just work and work and work...you gotta have an inventory! Niche marketing is a good place to start. Annie
Comment by Ron Erickson on April 1, 2009 at 5:54pm
Jay I believed the myth of the starving artist for most of my adult life. I am working to change that belief now. Like you I have always painted, drawn, sculpted. I've always "made stuff" as a fellow carpenter/artist once put it. All the best to you man. Like Joanne said,it is a business and to make a living at it takes an equal part work on the nuts and bolts marketing and so forth. I am working on getting to a place where I can go full time as a painter. Right now I am on a dual path working as a handyman and painting as much as I can. I sell a few paintings a year and have my work on www.fineartamerica.com and www.imagekind.com in order to sell prints of my work. Both sites have free gallery options as well as print on demand capabilities. Print quality is really quite good and if you got work that people like you will sell.
May the world bless you with prosperity for your endeavor. Focus, persistence, and good cheer be with you.
Comment by Martin Garcia on April 1, 2009 at 5:49pm
The world is-a-changin' I have been out of work for 6 months now, I never had the luxury of having a "good" job and I still question if I am good enough. Well although I often choose to stress out I am still doing it (just being an artist) and I am okay. Nothing will stop you but your fear, good luck, and I hope to see positive outlooks in this journal.
Comment by Joanne Aloni-Boldon on April 1, 2009 at 5:06pm
Hey Jay, you are bold and courageous. I hope you have been frugal in the past. One has to try because this is the only time one has is right now. Put every thing aside and give it your best. Remember, marketing is what it takes to succeed. T hat is often one of the hardest parts. This is a business. Dont let anybody kid you on that score. Best Wishes. Joanne
Comment by Amber Palecek on April 1, 2009 at 2:01pm
"Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves."
--Henry David Thoreau

I recently came across this quote and I couldn't agree with it more. So many doors are closing and many individuals are feeling lost,but if we just turn our heads slightly to the left or right we will find another door ready to be nudged opened.. Good luck Jay!!!
Comment by Jay Zerbe on April 1, 2009 at 10:04am
thanks tony! always good to know other artists have made the same transition!
Comment by Tony Reynolds on April 1, 2009 at 10:01am
Jay,
Plug on! My own "transition" was similar, although I quit the corporate world cold turkey at 59. I am now part of a thriving Artist Co-op here in Prescott, AZ and show at galleries in Sedona and Palm Desert. Best advice I can give is to be patient and work at your own pace. Success will be what you define it as. regards, Tony

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