It seems like March was another lifetime ago, Stockton officially closed on March Friday 13th, 2020. That day seems now as distant in my memory as 2018 or 2019, not too long ago but long enough to be a bit fuzzy.
Like many I sheltered in fear for the first couple days and I say that with all honesty. There was so much information flying around, the quantities so large it became hard to discern what was real and not. I remember waking on Saturday the 14th to a call from my mother pleading me to help her carry up the stairwell $200 worth of groceries. Most of what she bought consisted of canned goods and dried items and a small amount of meats. It's currently July, and we still have some of those canned goods in the pantry.
At the start of the shelter in place ordinances I had the novel idea that every day spent in quarantine would be a productive day, and although it may have started like such it slowly plateau with stress and unprecedented levels of anxiety with everything that I saw on both traditional and social media. I recently disabled my personal Instagram and schedule to delete my personal Facebook, which was nothing but a dumpster fire of misinformation and more anxiety provoking content. My one regret is not having done so earlier, as soon as I got rid of those two platforms my productivity skyrocketed. I still intend in running all my art related platforms as they are vital tools for any artist in the twenty-first century.
Of course I can not deny the impact the videos, images and news of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Vanessa Guillen and many others has had on me. The movements their deaths have inspired is truly unprecedented, necessary and has woke up the conscious of this nation. I hope that this movement does not drown amidst the noise of echo chambers and achieves its purpose of a more racially just society for people of all colors, politics, sexual orientations and religions. Because black lives matter, as much as brown lives matter, and trans lives matter.
Despite all those mental roadblocks during this time I have been able to relaunch my website, integrate an online storefront, inch my way a little closer to become a registered microbusiness, revamped the YouTube channel, secured commissions for four original pieces of art, carved six linoleum blocks and make about three dozen new prints. Most importantly I decided to invest in myself in the form of an online art school, which I will dive into more detail in another blog post.
Yes, it has been a busy four months filled with positive outcomes….I even found time to simply ride my bike.
Nevertheless, quarantine has not come with its setbacks. My mother was laid off a few days into the original March lockdown, so was my brother, and sister-in-law. There was a bleak few weeks when I was the only one pulling in an income out of my family, and there went the few hundred dollars on my savings account. Financially it has been the worst slump I have ever experienced. The Great Recession of 2009 trails in at second place at this point, the only difference this time around is that I have not lost my daytime job. Fortunately, in the last four months I have been grateful to ship artwork to Los Angeles, New York City, Napa Valley, Lodi, Texas and even Hawaii. The amazing power of the internet and the support of many wonderful people who care for artist, makers, small business and supporting local in general has helped me keep afloat.
In turn I always make it a priority that every time I make a sale, I use a portion of those earnings and support a fellow artist or local small business. I often find myself buying tea, plants and supporting locally own restaurants. Ironically it is rare for me to purchase artwork from other artists, I have bought prints and even a small illustration but nothing beyond that. On Instagram I saw the pledge many artist were taking in early June: to buy another artist's work if it was priced at $200 and then they in turn put work for sale that was $200 for others to buy. Despite how much I wanted to participate on this challenge I decided to save that money for the what if. I did, however, take part of an online auction that Zarina Situmorang announced on her Instagram stories. I purchased a small oil sketch, painting that to this day has still not cleared customs but that I await anxiously. Zarina lives in Russia.
For the past three weeks I have been living the life of a full-time artist thanks to being on vacation from my day job until August. It has been a refreshing sobering time. I have become obsessed with deadlines, not in a neurotic sort of way or in a manner that would cause me stress. Rather in the useful stuff:
Being clear on goals, asking myself what I want the end result of a piece to be.
Reviewing and analyzing my work multiple times on a single day and making changes when needed.
Realizing I can only sustain art, business models and their practices that I find acceptable which will allow me sustainable earnings.
Listening to my artist intuition works, and never compromise the passion.
The importance of developing personal relationships with my clients, whether they are virtual or in real life. Art, specially commissions are personal pieces that often reflect more about the person buying than the artist themselves. Understanding the needs and wants of a client is monumental, the client always wants to understand the process and story of how the piece is made.
Finally I have realized that when I make art, I don't care how many hours or drafts I spent working. I love making art, but work/life balance is important.
I still have to finish one of these commissions, my deadline of August 1 is less than a week away. As requested by the client no updates have been made public, and once that project is fully completed I will share with you all a special blog post about this project. In a little over a week I will return to my day job, to my regular routine, to actual work. I know my artmaking pace will slow down, I am planning on diving full force into linoleum printmaking and my art classes. Printmaking depends heavily on drawing and drawing will rest heavily on my budding skills at drawing and everything is tied back to art school. I do not intend making many paintings this year, but I am not giving up on painting either we are just taking a break. One of the places I do not intend of taking a break is this blog and of course my YouTube channel so check in every week for something new. Until next time take care and be safe.