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📙 #003 - The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Hello newsletter family!
I'm glad there's only a few of us, 41 at last count, (and I think two of those are me) because it gives me a chance to talk-things-out before sending them out into the world at large. In this case, it's a minor issue of $64,109.55.
Before we get into that, a quick recap into how I ended up here.
Back in 1994, I was doing an Arts Degree at university; during this time, the whole World Wide Web thing started kicking, and by the end of the course, I had two choices.
One: Carry on in the arts, or...
Two: Accept the big bags of cash being offered to anyone who understood even the slighted thing about building websites.
"Big bags of cash" is, of course, relative, and in this instance, relative to being a student. As much as I loved all the art I did, which heavily involved computers, I must confess, dear reader, that I took the internet money and ran.
We could, if I was feeling indulgent, view that whole section of my career as a hero's journey, getting lost down the path of digital, only to find my way back to what I loved most, doing art.
The culmination of that journey was getting my art studio two years ago and selling art six months after that.
The second "hero's journey" everyone has been able to follow along via the profit/loss monthly posts. We are tracking how I've slowly managed to make small monthly profits allowing me to gradually pay off the starting equipment and R&D debt of just over £2.5k.
Last month, to many comments and congratulations, I posted that I'd finally made an actual real overall profit of £1.37.
Which honestly felt fantastic.
After all that time working in the internet/digital space to come back around to pen and ink and paper, making a handful of sales each month, packing them up and taking them to the post office. After eighteen months, that £1.37 felt hard-won.
On the 7th of this month (April 2021) at 6 pm, I sold 255 pieces of digital art in two hours and two minutes, for a total of $64,109.55
Which is, you know, good, but also makes for a really shitty hero's journey.
By this point, I was supposed to have two other blog posts written because I suspect when I post this months' profit/loss report, there, will, be, questions.
One being "WTF is the 70s Pop project?" in which I'll explain what those 255 pieces of art are and why I'm not a terrible person. The other explaining what this means for all the pen plotter stuff and why I'm not a terrible person.
I haven't mentioned the $64k to anyone yet; you lovely 41 readers are the first to hear. And because I haven't written those posts yet, as I'm still working it out, here are the half-formed versions.
The WTF is 70s Pop, is the first part. Which I'll very quickly explain...
A short while ago, I was given a chance to launch a project on the Art Blocks platform (who are good people). NFT/Crypto-art has a bad rap because pretty much everything you see of it is weird meme gifs, and I'll be brave enough to say it, of low aesthetic value. But there's a lot of far more interesting stuff going on, which is covered briefly here It's not about the money.
Two things struck me. The first is that if I look at my most popular Instagram posts, the 70s Pop is right up there at the top.
The second is that I could use the same code to produce pleasing and varied images in this different media, i.e. thick black lines and glorious slabs of colour and gradients, rather than fine pen lines.
Those two things allowed me to bring over a style that I'd already worked on a lot and present it in a new way. I'm going to have to save my "yes, but what is it?" for the post. I wanted to cover the direct lineage from experience gained while pen plotting to transferring it over to digital.
Without the 18 months of coding, selling, feedback and comments, this whole thing wouldn't have happened.
So what does this mean for pen plotting?
The main thing is that pen plotting is where my heart is. I didn't spend all that time trying to escape digital-only just to go right back to it.
The other thing that's been pointed out to me, and I agree with (and was an active choice), was not yet including my own hours in the profit/loss. Because while I have been trying to turn making art into a paying job, I just wasn't there yet.
Instead, what I'm doing is this.
I'm dropping my "real world" work hours down to just 24 a month, meaning I can spend more time on the pen plotting art for reasons I'll come to in a moment.
I'm going to start paying myself an hourly wage, which will be reported in the profit/loss reports beginning in May.
I've moved into a proper but small art studio, with a higher rent. It's in a great (but haunted) building, with a coffee shop on the ground floor and a silk-screening studio just above that. I'm on the top floor. So it's a lovely little artist's hub. Even better, it's not freezing, and my fingers are already thanking me; I can actually type without them going numb.
And finally, I bought a second AxiDraw machine called "Morgan".
I expect that'll mean, for the next 12 months of this experiment, that I'll be posting a loss of around £2k a month, which will finally reflect the actual profit/loss of being an artist who doesn't sell much work.
Over the next year, because I've dropped my "real work" hours, I'll generally be slightly worse off financially, but, and this is the crucial part, more time-rich.
I have the opportunity over the next 12 months to be in a position to trade money for time.
This is good because I've wanted to focus on the art more and write and make videos for tutorials that I just haven't had time, space (or warmth) to do.
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So, now you know, and you too can look forwards to seeing the reactions to the jump in the monthly profit/loss report from £1.37 to around £46k (and then the slow, steady decline of that over the year).
I'm not doing any of the regular sections of the newsletter as I need to crack on with the blog posts mentioned above. I have three days before it all kicks off.
As always, please feel free to email me to say "Hi" or ask questions, although give me a couple of days to reply 😀
I hope you're enjoying the warmer weather, love,