Atelier 273 opened for business on November 1, 2012. With three other artists, I have formed a cooperative, renting studio space and maintaining a gallery. Where this takes us, we don't know. We are excited and scared and optimistic, and maybe broke for awhile. Meh, I have been broke before. Hell, I was unemployed/underemployed for a year. I got this.
The desire to create my own job became overwhelming the longer I was out of work. The only jobs I could find were either retail managment (more on this later) or severely under paying retail work. I stumbled across a merchandizing job in a type of contracting position, but the hours were very unpredictable and inconsisitent. I could make my own schedule, but the projects were sparse. I took on a part time job for a friend at a discount shoe store. Very light and easy work, but between the two I still was on unemployement. My goal was to get off UI and get back to work full time.
I finally found full time work at a discount hardware store. Not glamorous nor well paying, but it was doing something I liked: merchandizing. Held on to all three jobs as long as I could, but was never home. Ever. Except maybe to shower and sleep, and sometimes eat.
It was wearing on me.
And there was no time for art. I had to re-evaluate my choices, again, and clip back some of the hours on the other jobs. Slowly but surely things settled down, and I was asked to do an Art Loop show for First Friday in September. I jumped at the chance! Money and resources were tight, but I had several months to get it together. Using any extra time I had, I bought frames, matts and hanging supplies a little at a time and began preparing my work for display. My printer was awesome in that he worked with me making prints and cards, prices and getting the work done in time ( I love them!!) The weeks were quickly melting away, and money was getting tighter and tighter. At several times in the beginning of the process, unemployement was under review and it would be weeks before it would kick back in. I became a nervous wreck, less than a month before the show and I couldn't feed my family let alone purchase supplies. Even with two jobs (this was before the third) I still had to stay on unemployement. I was humiliated. Working all these hours and having all these financial problems I felt under an immense pressure to give up.
After many tears, I borrowed money from my parents and finished everything in time. JUST in time.
The love and support I felt the week of the show was overwhelming. So many people showed up to help and to be there for me, inviting their friends and family, it was a packed restaurant that night!
The entertainment was superb and I made a new friend in the process, A very talented performer, Bodhilynn. We had been friends through Facebook and had several friends in common, so I checked into her. Her voice is AMAZING! (On a side note, I will be seeing her perform in January at World Cafe Live, she is making it into the big time!!) I contacted Amber and asked her to perform, and she answered with a quick yes! Her price was reasonable, so we booked it, and it was magic! Many people stayed for the entrie two hour performance, which was awesome!
Back in July of last year, I had made a five year plan. The show was on there, but I had until July of 2013. I was ahead of schedule!
The next wonderful thing to happen was getting a studio. This wasn't EXACTLY on my plan, but it was on my list of things I felt meant success to me. Having a plan and defining my success has kept me from getting distracted from my goals, and has definately kept me from quitting many many times. How can I just sit and wish for success? There was no room for wishing in my life, it was all about doing. Those days of daydreaming were over. I had the time, and though resources were limited, it was possible with some hard work and sacrifice. Trust me, we scraped the pantry, lived week to week, and went without on quite alot. My family, my husband especially, was bound to see me succeed. He would not tolerate me going back to a job that would have me sacrifice all that I had worked for, and would not let me quit.
The commissions this past year had saved our butts on many occassions. It was satisfying to have that extra income, and to use my time on my art, time that had been at a premium for the last decade especially. My portfolio was growing. With preparing for the show, the small three bedroom apartment quickly filled with framing, matt and mounting boards, packing materials, and the cramped studio corner of the bedroom had devolved into a things leaning against walls, shoved under the bed, hid behind curtains and dressers, and things began to spill out into the tiny hallway, and eventually accumulating in the dining room (already multi tasking as a home office).
It was time.
Now we come back to the studio, Atelier 273.
In the earlier part of 2012, I had entered into several conversations with the owner of the local art supply store that I frequented. Joanne had a building next to the shop that she wanted to rent to artists. It had been her late husband's studio, an accomplished fine artist and portraitist himself. It was a match made in art heaven. Hardwood floors upstairs in his studio, a large picture window as well, and great lighting. Downstairs had a large living area that could be used as a gallery, and another studio was downstairs. Throw in a recently remodelled kitchen and a full bath, and it was a dream in the making.
Beginning with my close friends, I started to spread the word that this space was available. There was no way I could afford the expenses myself, so I needed to find a partner to share the upstairs with me. The search started with a good friend that I knew was struggling with space as well, and she seemed interested, we even started talking about starting a cooperative, but time was certainly at a premium for her, and the lead fizzled out. Remaining deligent, I sent emails and messages out to my other art connections, posted on artist forums, even approaching the local art alliance. (They never did post anything, but that is a WHOLE other story...)
Being associated with said arts alliance, I had made some interesting connections, and started to approach some of the artists that I had become pals with. Karin being among them, and she was interested! I took her to the studio for a tour and she loved it! The ideas began to churn and brew, and what started as just shared studio space quickly became a mission of an art cooperative. Karin had resources to get us started with deposits and setting up, and she began reaching out to the many connections she had. Among them was Cindy. She took a little while to commit, she came and toured the studio, and went home to think about it. After several days of Karin and I holding our breath, She said yes! Now for the fourth artist.... There was still some space downstairs, and Cindy approached a fellow graduate, and Phil said yes! We had our cooperative!
Now for me, everything had to come out of the money I made from my art (or the second job), there was no room in the household budget to afford it. This has been tough to do, timing is not always perfect, and it is alot of moving money from account to account every week, and it doesn't always work out. It has been suprising how much I have been able to do, though. There is nothing extra, trust me, but we make it.
This has been the hardest, most stressful, satisfying, successful year. I am so glad I have finally made this commitment. All my life, my commitment had been to other people, whether in relationships, jobs, family, this time it was about me.
None of this would be happening had I not met my husband, TJ.
When I met TJ, I felt like I had known him forever, that he was an old friend I caught up with again. I knew at the failing end of my last relationship, that I would not be happy if I continued to have relationship with people I didn't fully trust, or that didn't understand my or the creative process, among a hundred other reasons. I decided to just be myself, FINALLY I felt free to do that. And along came TJ. A talented musician, a bit of an outsider, like myself, and we understood where each other came from immediately. He has been my pillar through all of this, and has kept me going day after day. He would rather see me not work another day job for the rest of my life if he could make it happen, He wants so badly for me to have this work, sometimes I feel it might be almost more than I do. He understands what it is like to have to put your dreams aside because of life, I think many of us do.
The one thing I hope I can send with you is that dreams are possible. Don't walk away from them because they might be a little hard. They don't have to be big at first, my dream is still a baby. It is starting to get up on its feet and toddle a little, which is beautiful to see. Give your dreams time to grow, they will if you tend to them. Don't let them die. Do not EVER let them die!
And here we are. I am now going to go and get ready to go to the studio. Weekends are so lovely, I have to whole studio to myself, and the solitude is exactly what I need at the end of the week. After nine hours there yesterday, I still didn't want to leave. I probably won't want to leave today either.
Thank you for listening. I hope somewhere in here you find something that inspires you to get up and get out, to say or do that thing that you have been talked yourself out of so many times because there was no time, no money, because you didn't know where to start. Good luck to you, and keep me posted! :)