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Oh, to Have a Stable Income

What It's Like to Be an Artist Dependent on Sales

I want to start this off by saying this article is not intended to guilt trip you. I do not need your sympathy, I merely ask you to see things from my point of view, and get a new perspective on what it's like to be an artist, especially as someone who doesn't have another source of income and is currently unable to work. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Not everyone is able to get a job. For me, getting a job is definitely a struggle I'd rather not have to face. It's a life filled with patronizing remarks and people telling you to "just get a job" as if getting a job was as simple as breathing. I'm unable to apply for a job since the government has not sent me the details I need to be able to do so. For that reason, I have turned to the only skill I have: drawing. 

It's not really any secret that art supplies are expensive, which makes being an unknown artist fairly unsustainable. Most of the time I can't make enough money to be able to pay for food and basic necessities, let alone art materials. For that reason I end up in dry patches where my creativity and motivation die altogether. Sometimes I don't make sales in months, and I end up having to leech off of friends and family. Not only is this bad for them, as they have themselves and their own families to care for, but it leaves me feeling extremely guilty taking away from them and it makes me feel like a huge burden.

Not only is it a tough financial situation to be in, but it also takes a massive toll on my mental health. Alongside the feeling of being a constant financial burden to my family and the guilt that entails, but I also often find myself swamped by suicidal thoughts, thinking I'm not good enough when I can't make sales, and essentially can't even afford to live. There's also an intense pressure to constantly put out consistently good and interesting work, which becomes exceedingly difficult when your brain is attacking you, leaving you with no motivation or inspiration. A further source of anxiety is the response that my work get's on social media. As an artist that typically uses darker themes such as death, and potentially offensive imagery like anti-religious symbolism (such as my piece depicting a nun surrounded by satanic imagery) there's also the risk that there will be a massive backlash from certain communities. Of course, I could stop using such controversial subject matters, but there is no guarantee that this will stop negative comments, bearing in mind that some of the harshest comments I've received, such as "get cancer," have been left on my most innocent and least controversial pieces.

Being an artist is something I've dreamed about since I was a child. I always imagined it would be easy; after all, if someone can sell an unmade bed for millions, surely my art would sell as well. I was always frowned upon for taking the "easy option" for pursuing an education in the arts in hope of an artistic career, rather than aiming to become a doctor or lawyer. However, my path hasn't been easy. I've travelled down an extremely rocky road to take my artistic career somewhere but at the end of the day I wouldn't give it up for anything. The satisfaction of selling a piece is so great that it momentarily outweighs the negatives. I just wish that people saw what it is really like to be an artist.

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Oh, to Have a Stable Income
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