Somehow, I got convinced that I should hide who I truly am. What a mistake.
A long, hot summer was a great opportunity for me to think, hard, about how I'd like my business to evolve, and how I want it to be perceived. When someone asks me what I do, I usually have several answers, but it almost always starts with "Artist". Then, I add, "Historian, Preservationist, Event Planner..." In recent years, nonprofit neighborhood groups and others have begun asking for my help- to share my expertise on how to bring artists in, or how to leverage creative events to draw attention to historic places. I was thrilled to be able to help in some small way.
Eventually, it dawned on me that THIS could be my future as a business- a Creative Consultant. I sought assistance from the Buffalo State College Small Business Development Center, read up on Benefit Corporations, and began to re-create my website.
I want to be taken seriously. I want to get hired. I NEED to make a more sustainable living.
So, I edited out (hid) my art and family history research from my "new, more professional website", which touted my credentials as a writer, event planner and nationally-known DIY historic preservation activist.
Why? Because I was tired of the condescending remarks after telling people I was an artist. "But how do you ACTUALLY make money?" I was sick of explaining myself. "Whoa, you get enough family histories and art commissions to survive on?". The fact that I have to supplement my income with other short-term gigs made me even more defensive and sad that it has not, in eight years, been possible to survive on this work alone.
All this time, I've been trying to pull apart the threads of who I am, to present the most winning or successful side to the public. I was afraid that my artist side would prevent me from getting contracts with governments or organizations.
I'm done with that, and with caring about people's preconceived notions about artists. I AM one, and I have managed to carve out a living by being smart, creative, and resourceful. I'm PROUD of my skills and my efforts in each discipline, and it's about time I fully own them. If there's anything I have to prove, it's simply that I am enough, and I need not be ashamed of my lack of steady income. It's a hard world in which to be an artist, because we've devalued art and culture in American society. If school leadership thinks that art, languages and culture are expendable, then why is it a surprise that adults don't take art seriously as a career?
There are many thousands of artists out there, working hard to make a living for themselves, scraping by. And there are a small number who do very well for themselves. It is not our fault that people are just now coming back around to the realization that "buying local" includes art. Thank goodness the movement is happening at all.
I sure have a lot of preconceived notions about other professions, and I would love for them to be corrected. In the meantime, please browse around my site, which now proudly displays links to ALL my creative work- Property History, Family History, Art, Creative Consulting, AND Events.