Whew, be careful what you ask for. I intended to attract more meaningful book art to my plate, more opportunity for fruitful collaboration with other artists, and more engaging day-job client work. What happens when you get it all - at the same time? I thought there was no such thing as too much abundance. Or that all of these things couldn't possibly come true. I was so wrong.
I told someone the other day that I feel like I embody the seemingly inherent tension between art and commerce, between feeding my soul and making a decent living. Literally, I feel the tug-of-war in my body. On the one hand, I'm not interested in being a poor artist or finding myself in a position where I can't live with some level of financial serenity. On the other, I simply cannot do without pursuing my art. It would be like deciding to cut off my oxygen.
I've spent the last two years searching for "the answer" on how (if?) other artists strike this delicate balance. So far, I'm finding there is no magic answer, no perfect formula. Of course not. In the airport van on the way to Penland this summer, I sat next to one of the instructors, Fawn Potash. Her first question to me was, "So what's your formula?" It was her experience that all artists have to pursue a blend of income streams.
My informal research has consisted of asking anyone I can for the past two years a similar question. So far, the following themes are emerging: some anchor themselves in academia, others cobble together studio work and teaching, a fortunate few work fulltime for non-profit art centers, still others support or sell products and services to artists with their own art in the mix. Many - myself included as of now - work what amounts to two fulltime jobs: day job + art. Eric Maisel's A Life in the Arts has validated much of what I'm learning anecdotally, as well.
So back to the law of attraction. If I've managed to attract a bunch of great opportunities, why couldn't this be true for the money on the art side of my currently over-committed life? I believe that I will, actually, and that it's just a matter of time. In the meantime, drinking from a fire hose of abundance is not going to get me there any faster.
How about a nice steady stream, an even flow? Yup, that's more like it. When I come up for air later this December, I'm going to have a nice long talk with myself about this. Until then, I'm too busy to do much about it.