Friday, September 9, 2011

Some advice I should be taking.

Advice, Part 1: "Your career should be whatever it is you'd choose to do every day if you didn't have to worry about getting paid for it." 
You know what I'm getting paid to do every day? Sell tickets. I sell tickets, and I talk angry old ladies out of marching down to my office and beating me with their walkers when they don't get the seats they want. Would I do that every day if I didn't get paid for it? No. Absolutely not. Never. Niet. It sucks. I keep thinking to myself, "This is what paying the bills feels like. It feels good, right Joa?" and yet, there's a great big lack of fulfillment eating away at my insides. While we were out for drinks downtown last week, my friend Alyssa advised me that my career should be whatever it is I'd choose to do every day if I didn't need to worry about getting paid for it. I've probably butchered her exact wording, since she's a far more eloquent person than I am, but that's the gist of it.

I tried to make a career out of my art straight out of college as a set/prop designer for the theater, then panicked because I wasn't getting paid enough to live like a normal human being. So, I went and found myself a cozy office job that makes me want to punch the elderly, but provides me with some stability. For now, financially, I need that. The people I work with are pretty phenomenal, the pay is decent, and even on the worst days I know that someone will make me laugh. But eventually, I would like to leave this place and make my living by painting things like this big-ass fish head:

Oil on canvas, Joa Stening Jan. 2010

Advice, Part 2: "Draw awesome stuff and put it on the internet. Do this for a while and good things will happen."
I recently read a blog post by artist & illustrator Phil McAndrew, who is basically a genius. In this article, Phil gave some of the best advice I've heard all year: "Draw awesome stuff and put it on the internet. Do this for a while and good things will happen." It sounds simple because it is simple. I don't know why I haven't started doing this already--actually, yes, I do know why. I have been way too self-conscious about my work because I don't actually have an art degree. I didn't spend $120,000 in higher education to learn how to do this stuff "correctly." Instead, I spent that money on...a BA in Theater Studies. Super. But honestly, all I've thought about for the past year is how badly I want to paint and draw for a living. It seems like the best way to start doing that is to do exactly as Phil McAndrew says: put my work out there so that people actually see it. If I don't do that, no one will connect with my work and want to pay me to make it, because they frankly won't even know it exists.

I could continue to force my boyfriend to look at my drawings for the rest of his life and say "Great job, honey, that's really cute," but I'm sure that he can't keep that up forever. And even if he could, he still wouldn't pay me. So, here is a blog that will eventually be full of my work. I hope that someone somewhere likes it.

To read the rest of Phil McAndrew's article, click on through.

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