Why I started my fine art business — Starshine Pet Painting
I’ve quit a lot of things in my life (swimming lessons, piano and college, to name a few). But the one thing I haven’t quit is art. It seems lucky and possibly by divine intervention at times that I’ve just happened to never quit art like all the other things in my life.
While it seems fortunate at times that I’ve stuck with it, it’s almost seemed equally unlucky. I am 30k in debt from an art school I didn’t even graduate, paying my rent more often feels like a miracle than not, and I’m pretty sure my family still hopes I give up and get a real job. The reality of financial difficulties are the times when I really do question, “When am I going to give this up and get a real job?”
Am I going to give this up? Despite all the ups and downs, I am grateful that I’ve always been able to source catharsis from creation. I process myself externally by expressing my internal world through painting or drawing or whatever helps me organize a little bit more of myself. This has also come with incredible self doubt, frustration, and strong desires to cut of my hands, but as much as I’ve really, truly, tried to quit many, many times, I am well convinced by now that I would suffer much worse without art.
But how much do I commit to making my art my income? I believe it’s perfectly fine and valid for art to be a hobby, and a painting is still a legitimate piece of art even if I don’t make money off of it. But there is a very stubborn part of me that insists I should be doing what I want to be doing with my life, and that is making art. So I better figure out how to do it.
I have found that it’s very important to be real. I absolutely want to be painting and creating whatever my heart desires all day without ever having to worry about paying my bills, but unless you’re an artist well past the ‘emerging’ stage or have wealthy parents it’s not going to happen. Until my career is more established and my work is more well known, I’m going to settle for what I call stepping stones.
In my young 20s, when I had the arrogant and ignorant confidence one can only have at that age, I didn’t take opportunities less than prestigious galleries or publications seriously. I really didn’t want to see my work anywhere else, and certainly not in a gift shop or my brother’s guest bedroom. Thankfully li
fe has slapped me in the face a few times, and I’ve come to embrace and aspire to any job that builds my skill set as an artist. Maybe a particular job is not the end goal, but if it gets me closer to where and who I want to be, I’m going to let go of judging it, and let it take me further. I’m happy to say my work is in gift shops, and my brother’s guest bedroom is basically an exclusive gallery of my work. Slowly but surely this idea lead to snowballing commissions and opportunities. I’ve gone from cake design and decorating in a bakery to bartending at a brewery where I’ve also done a mural, and most recently to painting pets.
Before I started painting people’s pets I really hated painting animals. Honestly, because I didn’t think I was good at it, and fur really is a pain in the ass. But after a few friends and family members needed thoughtful gifts for last year’s Christmas season it turned into a business without me even realizing what I was doing. By now I’ve painted dozens of pets, learned more about managing a business than I ever thought I would, and actually love what I do. The never ending to do list of running a small business is a real bummer at times, but I feel so much satisfaction learning skills that are invaluable to my fine art career — like painting, for one My watercolor skills have dramatically increased, and now I actually enjoy painting pets because I’m good at it. Learning how to be self-employed and manage my finances (and handle other people giving me their money) has been invaluable to learning how to price my work and gain confidence in my abilities. These experiences are totally relevant to being the real artist I want to be someday, you know like when I’ll sell my art to famous people and get published in Juxtapoz.
No, I do not want to be painting pet portraits my whole life, but I’m pretty okay with doing it right now when it brings me all that much closer to being entirely self-employed, self-directed, creative, and artistic in a sustainable way.
By the way! If you’re interested in a pet painting of your own check out my website. Or you can drop me an email at email@example.com