Continuously surrounded by art, I write about my experiences and their influences on my artistic practices. I am a starving artist that spends every minute I can being exposed to as many types of art as possible.

The Life of a Starving Artist

I am a struggling artist and curator trying to make a living in the arts.  It is difficult finding a full time job.  I went to college, have great references and recommendations, yet rarely get an interview for full time positions.  The odds continue against me when I am up against people with a Master’s degree applying for a job only requiring a Bachelor’s degree.  Yet somehow I have been able to pull together work for the last couple of years.  I guess I am really lucky because it is normally offered to me or I am referred by somebody.  The catch is they are all temporary or short term jobs, lasting anywhere from one night to a few months.  And this is how I accidentally became self employed.

But I think the life of an artist is always self employment.  In school, the best advice I was given was that I will always have several jobs.  The reality is even crazier than it sounds.

So what do I do?  I work at a few different places, with different people for short term different projects.  When I don’t work for somebody else I create my own projects or work on my own art.  Is that clear enough?

I have worked in several galleries including art360, Found, Ruiz-Healy, and Debra Benditz Studios.  I have been a studio assistant for a Sculptor and also sometimes do independent work as an exhibition assistant or curator.

My main employer is the Southwest School of Art, which I love yet is a complicated relationship.  I interned in the Exhibitions Department while in school and stayed on as Volunteer Registrar for their permanent art collection until December 2011.  I have also always worked on different projects, such as occasional installations, opening receptions, the annual benefit Gala, and any events they may need additional help with.  I also sometimes cover as gallery receptionist or as the main administrative assistant.  I also work in the SSA Gallery Shop for large events or during the summers.  I love working with the people here, it’s such a creative environement!

When I am not working for someone else, I am working for myself.  A friend once asked how I do what I do.  When I thought about it the answer was as simple as I think of it and do it myself.  There are so many projects that I am working on or want to work on.  Constantly on my mind as well are group shows that I want to put together.  I have built relationships with some galleries where I know I can present my ideas and set up a show but also believe a show needs an appropriate setting.  Sometimes that is outside a traditional gallery space.

My main personal project is Invisible Gallery.  Started June 2010, this is my art representation name.  With no location, I represent a couple of artists and work on curating shows.  I am currently working on my largest project to date, Seven Minutes in Heaven, an erotic group show of thirteen artists, including myself.  Linda Arredondo is my co-conspirator in the project, as well as exhibiting artist.  Conceived March 2011, the show is now coming up, March 3, 2012.  A full year in the making, I am so excited about the artist list and the buzz already going around about the show!

My phone is my best friend since I have to constantly keep a calendar and check my email.  Some jobs need an immediate response or may be last minute.  I haven’t forgotten a day of work yet, which sometimes is a miracle because I have been known to work at three or four different places in a week.  The most difficult thing sometimes is remembering where I am when answering the phones.  I always have to pause and think for a second.

Benefits of being self employed include constantly meeting people in the art field.  This has lead to other jobs and helps me when I am curating.  I also get to set my own schedule, I often travel for art and this is very important.  But the biggest benefit for me is that I love art.  I am doing something I love, whether I am making art, at an exhibit, at work, or volunteering.  It rarely feels like work.

Now the cons.  While it rarely feels like work, I also don’t get paid as much or as regularly as I’d like.

This is my first time blogging.  I have been saying I was going to do this for several months, so I figured a new year was the perfect time for a new beginning.  I decided to write this for several reasons.  The most important reason for me is to document and organize my self employment.  Another reason is it’s difficult trying to explain what I do.  I have had a very difficult time writing a usable resume that really displays my skills.  I have also been questioned if I am considered freelance vs. self employed.  Is there a difference?

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