Tag Archives: business

The Physics of Being Busy

Have you ever noticed how busy people seem to get more done?

I’ve heard that if you have a task that needs completing, give it to a busy person. They’ll get it done. Probably in a timely fashion too.

Maybe it has something to do with physics. People with a lot to do have a lot more energy whirling around them. They’re already moving fast. Adding something else just propels them faster. Tasks are easy because they’re used to doing them. They cook and clean simultaneously.

Now think of that person who never does anything. Their biggest contribution in life is unlocking a weapon in a video game. They sleep during the day. They have all the free time in the world to complete as many projects as they want. Yet… Would you have any confidence whatsoever that this person would be able to complete your task at all, let alone quickly?

I wouldn’t either.  Continue reading

The Shower Scene – A Gallery Story

I want to say upfront that this is just one story from my life, and not a commentary on the gallery system as a whole. My personal experience with “traditional” galleries has ranged from lackluster to unethical (and possibly illegal, but I’ll get to that in a second.) I do not believe they’re all like that. I’m very open-minded about galleries. I’ve simply had great success and enjoyment representing myself, and doing so is not a reaction to anything negative as much as it is a belief in doing something positive.

But anyway.

When I was starting out professionally, I heard from a number of people within the local art scene that I was ready for my own show. So I went out and got one. The gallery I’d found was up and coming, an offshoot of a more successful gallery nearby. The owner (we’ll call him Shawn) was an artist himself, and sold a great deal of work, all at higher end prices, with a pretty significant and growing following in the area. He liked my work, and immediately offered me a show. After securing a date, I heard from fellow artists that although his art “was a bit formulaic,” he seemed to be a fantastic businessman. The openings I attended in the months leading up to my show were lively events.

When I arrived at the gallery the morning of my own show to set up, I could sense a weird and unexpected attitude from Shawn. He was cold and unhelpful. He abruptly announced that I couldn’t use blacklights, a fairly integral part of my art, despite seeming enthusiastic about them a few weeks prior. He further informed me that I wouldn’t have access to half the space I was promised, because another artist was using it. When I firmly explained the necessity of the blacklights, he finally told me I could use a small room through a hall and in the back for this purpose.

I was determined to keep a good attitude about things. Continue reading

Why I Hate ‘Work of Art’ (and why I watch it)

Fingerprint of Inspiration

If you’re not familiar, ‘Work of Art’ is a reality TV show on Bravo about artists, in the same vein as Project Runway. Artists with different styles and backgrounds compete against each other toward one last battle, the prize being money and an official show in a fancy art place, displaying all the crap they made over the course of the season.

Each episode presents a new “challenge,” or theme, to inspire the artists to make a piece of art that will be judged against all the rest, after a time limit of one day in which to conceptualize, create, and finish their art. It has to be unique, innovative, something that passes the approval of “qualified” judges, and must never be too reminiscent of their own style or in any way similar to what they made last week.

It’s not much different than pulling in ten random people off the street, throwing them into a craft store for 20 minutes, and then demanding they produce genius art in a day.

This is not a venue in which these artists are allowed to display their lifetime of creativity, the progress in their own careers, or their unique fingerprint of inspiration. It’s a pressure-filled war zone where they are emotionally blindfolded, dropped off in the middle of nowhere, and told to build epic cathedrals out of popsicle sticks. Their reward is a harsh critique from some dude who owns a gallery in New York and the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Sarah Jessica Parker will grace them with her presence. Continue reading

Art Frenemies

Perspective is everything.

Lately I’ve been pondering the relationships artists have with other artists.

I think in some ways, there’s this mistaken dream that artists all gather collectively the way we imagine it was done in 1920’s Paris; a utopia of sorts for artists to mingle, support, and commiserate with each other.

A scene from the movie Midnight in Paris:

Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion.
Ernest Hemingway: I hate it.
Gil: You haven’t even read it yet.
Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it. If it’s good, then I’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

Well put.

Online, I’ve been fortunate to connect with many artists, mostly visual artists, but artists of other genres as well. Perhaps it’s the distance between us, the safe barrier of computer screens shielding us from the snickering, eye-rolling, and snide comments we’ve experienced in real life. Maybe it’s the sense that we share a common bond, not only of marketing ourselves as a business online, but also a common lack of artist-to-artist relationships in the real world.

Or, maybe we just have a wider audience in which to find people we truly click with.

In real life, at least for me personally, I find an odd, awkward distance in communication between myself and other artists. For whatever reason, conveniently, my real-life artist friends are the least likely to comment on my Facebook updates, acknowledge anything about my life, or ask how I’m doing when they see me. Continue reading

Loneliness – The Burden of Artists

The Lonesome Road of Artists

Don’t get me wrong — Being a self-employed artist is absolutely the most rewarding and fascinating journey I have ever undertaken. It lights my soul on fire and makes me happier than I ever thought possible. I feel empowered and capable. I absolutely love getting up every morning. I adore my job.

That doesn’t make it any less lonely though.

I’m not talking about the hermit-like lifestyle I lead all day, every day, in order to get work done. I’m talking about the absence of true connection with other people who don’t pursue goals in the same manner.

I’ve met many people who work 9-to-5’s and generally assume that I work very little, and that my daily life consists of TV, napping, and leisure. Somehow, amidst this life of endless stasis, my artwork, marketing, and writings burst forth into the universe simply because I think them into existence.

Whenever I achieve something I’ve been working towards, someone inevitably comments about how “lucky” I am. Ha. Continue reading

The shoveling of Snow and housekeeping of home

On Sunday, Saint John received it’s first snowfall. And with that comes the task of clearing of said snow from walkways, stairs, driveways and decks. I was pooped after shoveling, only to have to clean up the house afterwords.

Each Sunday, I strip the tenants beds, wash linens and towels, vacuum, clean the bathrooms and basically restock toilet paper, hand towels and other common goods that are included with the rent. I’ve got it down to a science, after doing this for the last four months and it takes me about four hours from beginning to end to do the housekeeping chores. I look it at as my part-time job. I claim the income from the rentals and pay much extra for residential insurance as opposed to regular home insurance which will not cover you when you rent to more than one person within your own home. And I rent to up to three people at times. At the moment, I have two tenants; one long-term and one short-term and am hoping to have another tenant by mid-next week who is coming to Saint John from Montreal for a work contract.

By doing it by the book, I am able to claim a percentage of all cleaning supplies, toilet paper, heating, power, cable, internet, furniture, bedding etc that the tenants use. On top of that, because I run and operate a business within this home I needed additional business insurance and therefore can claim all related utilities, basically a 1/4 of the main floor of the house. I can claim about 4/5 of my home as business due to the rental and art business combined, and do pay dearly for the insurance of both. The paperwork of running two businesses is a another job unto itself!

I raised the rents from $125 per week to $150 per week as the expenses were a bit more than I initially calculated. However, when compared to other room rentals available within the city my rooms are on the higher end of renting but they are legal, clean, bright, spacious and well maintained.

And I guess, that is what matters.

Needless to say, come late Sunday night I was exhausted after shoveling snow for two and half hours and then cleaning house for four hours, as both are very labour intensive. I definitely do not need a gym membership.

Begin RANT – I was just today declined for life insurance. Don’t ever get Crohn’s disease and/or mental health or addiction issues as you will be declined if you are self-employed and single in Canada. This is frustrating. I can’t get health insurance and now life insurance to, unless I am employed by a company who offers group insurance or am married and under my partners plan. Thank god I live in Canada where at least health care is free. We do need to pay for dental, eye care and prescription drugs (which would be covered if you had insurance) but anything else is free. BUT STILL I’ve been in remission from Crohn’s for 12 freaking years and clean of addiction for four years! End RANT

ThinkBakery Blog Talking Shop Interview

I was asked recently by the ThinkBakery blog to do an interview. It’s live now!

And to quote the opening of the interview:

I have had the pleasure of lots of email correspondence with successful self-employed artist Jessica Doyle. I posted about her on Design Milk, and she went above and beyond my “Do” list. She is so sweet and articulate, and her honesty is refreshing. Check out her story:

Hope you’ll check it out!

Rolling Roses (down the highway of life)

For a while there… nothing was coming together; ink lines, paper cuts, pens with caps off, all were left wandering aimlessly in the studio with unfinished lines, scraps of paper and ideas yet to bear fruit. That kind of sums up the last few months of my life.

Continue reading