When I was younger, I always went to art magnet schools; in junior high I went to a performing arts magnet that did music, acting and graphic design. In high school, I went to a specifically visual arts magnet program, got really into photography, and I still did all the art classes.
During college, I took one term off to intern with Matt Groening on Futurama. I enjoyed it very much, and it was a paid internship too, which was the most money I had ever made in my life!
I assisted the character and prop designers, the directors, and the producers; I did scanning, faxing, organizing and looked for scenes, stuff like that. I absorbed tons, I learned a lot about colour pallet and colour theory.
I loved school. I could have been in school forever, working really well with deadlines within a structured environment, which translates really well to being a freelance artist. You have to work within the parameters art directors and galleries give you. There are many artists who don't like that environment who do wonderfully well on their own. Gary Basemen never went to college, I know that, but he has this crazy obsessive drive in his personality, so it works. There are lots of people that have talent, tons and tons, but it takes that extra something to have the drive and the ambition to really go far. It’s hard to work so much, you have to say no to a lot of things. Basically, you have to give up your life, you know, these things aren’t going to paint themselves.
I graduated in 2001. While I was in school, I was already doing art shows and freelance work. My schedule for the past 15 years has been working 15 hour days and not having a life-you have to say no to those fun parties, dinners, and movie nights that all your friends are going to.
It was definitely hard sacrificing my social life for my career but you get a payoff in a different way. I get invited to go to Europe or I can do a book tour for six weeks, travel around, and that's work, too! I am really social so that was hard for me, but moving to New York. This city works for me because I can work 15 hours until three in the morning and I can still go out and meet my friends for another hour or so and have a few drinks and unwind before I went to bed. I’d talk to my friends, so I felt like I had a fuller life. Usually after a solo show I will take a month or two off, because those solo shows are really intense to work on and I will travel or I will set aside time between deadlines to go travel if I am doing an event or a small art show somewhere.
In the beginning-to sell my work and myself I started calling around to galleries. I didn't mail them anything. I didn't do postcard mailings to art directors or anything like that, because I never really did editorial illustration. It doesn't pay that well and the turn around time is so fast, I never really ended up enjoying it. I started taking out adds in Juxtapose magazine, for selling my prints and little merchandise I was making. That really helped because even though I wasn't in the magazine, you know, featured, people didn't even pay attention to that, they would just say oh I saw your Juxtapose, meanwhile I was paying to be in there, but it worked. It helped with recognisability. I also started working in comics, I would go to comic conventions and have a little table and meet people and have my prints. I did that for years and years and years. Then I got an email from an editor at Vertigo DC Comics about doing comic book covers and that was a big factor in helping me gain some popularity and helped my fine art career blossom. Then I started doing rock posters, and that was a really great and unexpected surprise!
A Day in the Life:
Emails were already checked; I'm going to head over to The Cotton Candy Machine, an art boutique my boyfriend and I just opened. We show all my stuff and other artists’ merchandise that’s affordable. We don't consider ourselves a gallery; we’re not into selling thousand dollar paintings, the market is affordability-we want everyone to be able to buy prints, small pieces of artwork, t-shirts, and art books. We have monthly art shows with really fun, really cool artists that we want to work with.
I am actually co-curating an art show in Rome at the Dorothy Circus Gallery. It is a charity sale, so half the profits are going to get donated to Green Peace and Oceana. I have some of the paintings that got shipped to the store, so what I have to do is, run over to the store and grab those, and then I have to bring them over to my art studio, scan them, scan my piece, and then bring them back to the store to get them shipped out. Then I am going to come back home. Maybe I'm going to meet my friend for tea, we'll see if there is time for that, and then I am going to come back home and work on the drawing for paintings I have to finish in a couple weeks, so I will be drawing and working out those ideas and figuring out what I can do, how I can make it look as badass as possible within the time frame. I have to answer a small interview for a magazine, and I have to make a little postcard for our next show at the Cotton Candy Machine. We need to make the flyer for that and get that to the printer by five p.m. and I think that might be it for today, we'll see.
Email’s are an extremely important thing that you have to stay on top of, and it's hard because they keep coming in and they take forever to answer, you know. I mean, I begin my day checking my emails, and sometimes it takes me four to six hours to get through all my emails, from answering interviews or organizing things, getting back to people figuring out organizing which I am really good at and I enjoy doing, so that benefits my career and I like to do that. It’s a good way to procrastinate when I don't feel like drawing just yet, I think I’ll go through these emails and find good ways to positively procrastinate.
It’s really important to pay attention to the business side of things because that is a huge part. You can live in a fantasy world and just paint in your studio forever and just disregard the rest of it. No one is going to see your work and no one is going to find you because no one is going to be communicating with you.
Be yourself, be on time, be nice, be courteous, put 110 % into your work and you will have a good relationship with your clients. It never hurts to be able to hang out with them in person, you know, that’s the thing about living in New York or L.A. I have gotten so many jobs and art shows, and fun things from going to a party and meeting someone, it really happens. That’s that luck factor I was talking about, it’s being at the right place at the right time. If you want to be in art shows, go to art shows constantly, if you want to work in music, go see bands, meet managers, and immerse yourself in the environment that you want to be in. What really helps, is meeting in person. In line for the toilet making small talk, oh, where do you work? It happens.
xoxo Entrepreneur Girl