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Making a Living as an Artist? Getting There.

Last summer I showed a collection of art I had been working on for about a year to a friend of mine at an art festival. She had asked how I had been doing as I slowly recovered from Covid. They were very small pieces, each a tiny jewel with brilliant colors and bright metallic highlights.

I told her I had started doing neurographic art as a therapy technique after running across it online. She fell in love with my art, and so did her business partner. Luckily for me, the two women own an art gallery, and invited me to bring more work in, for consideration for a gallery show in December this year. I took in more work, they loved it, a date was set for the gallery opening. (December 2 in Mountainair, New Mexico, if you want to come to the opening reception).



I started to take myself a little more seriously as an artist.

A little background. In high school, in the early 1980s, my singular passion was art and I thought I would spend my life pursuing a career in art. Life intervened, and I spent a few decades doing art as a hobby, but I wanted to have it generate me some income.

So I had been working on a website, replacing my old mental health blog of art, poetry and random weirdness with a “serious art” website that (I hope) looks like a gallery when you land on the page.

I want the website and the updated blog to serve as a resource for people trying to do what I'm doing, establish a paying career as an artist—no more art as a side hustle or a hobby! Let's do this!

Doing this is fraught with financial insecurity, and you're better off if you have help in that arena, or a solid financial footing from which to build. Why? Here's something I didn't know before: Selling art is expensive!

Frames are expensive, unless you build your own; if you do build your own, it's a pretty big time commitment, and there is still a cost for materials.



Mats are expensive, foam board is expensive, and art supplies are sooooo expensive.

Having a website that will accept payments for products and services is expensive. Supplementary apps like Photoshop are expensive

So far, I have a low level of income, but it's increasing day by day, and it's better than break even, which means my art is profitable! I'm setting up as many passive streams of income as I can, like coloring books and an art journal (under development), or socks with my art printed on them, or online classes and virtual courses (under development).

In early spring, my friend recommended I submit work to a gallery in Old Town Albuquerque, which I did. I sold the first piece shown there ($250!!!), and was accepted into a second show, which is still on the walls of the gallery at this writing.



Financial stress sucks, and I'm lucky to have a supportive network in this difficult transition from a successful career as a news reporter, editor and newspaper owner and publisher to a full-time artist. That's the dream, and every day I take baby steps in that direction.

Even though I feel fear about it sometimes, I'm investing that money in myself and my lifelong dream of working and living as a full-time artist.

I'm also working to help other artists get rid of the “ICK” feeling about putting prices on or selling art—hence this blog alongside my art website. I hope you find it useful, and would love to hear feedback. Email me at leotabrigida@gmail.com.

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