Hamilton Falls, Jamaica Vermont
Lynn and I just returned from a wonderful four-day stay at a cabin by a rushing river not far from Brattleboro Vermont. We always have great vacations together, but this one was especially unusual because we were completely media-free. We had no television, no radio, no computer. I wrote the following paragraphs while we were there:
I'm writing this by hand, on lined 8 1/2 x 11 notebook paper with a ballpoint pen. I'm off the grid for four days, a bit challenging for a workaholic like me, but I'm looking forward to feeling what that feels like. Maybe it won't even be difficult.Most artists I know have a similar portfolio career made up of art-making, self-promotion, teaching and often some sort of "day job." I'd be curious to hear from any readers, especially if you're in the arts, about how you manage to make art, support yourself and your loved ones, plus have time to manage a household, a family, and relationships.
I've been thinking a lot about my career lately, as an illustrator and more broadly as an artist. Last week I put together a package of the new Pilgrim prints for my gallery in Seattle, which pushed me to do a more organized and thorough inventory of all my prints, which got me to thinking about the fact that I really have 4 or 5 distinct jobs. My friend Orville Pierson, career coach and author of the book Highly Effective Networking calls this balancing of a number of different jobs or careers a "portfolio career," a double-entendre that I especially love as an artist. So here's my "portfolio:"
No wonder I feel like I'm working all the time!
- I create illustrations commissioned for books, magazines, corporate clients and web sites. I used to also work for newspapers, although that work has almost completely dried up. Much of the other work has begun to dry up as well in this recent global recession.
- I do advertising, promotion, contract negotiation, billing and bookkeeping for my illustration work.
- I make woodblock prints about topics of my own choosing.
- I do marketing and promotion for the prints I create, including documenting the work and running my studio.
- I occasionally teach woodblock printmaking.