I have been a professional artist for much of my adult life. But I officially opened my art studio in 1999. That's when I really focused on making a business out of it, a steady, trackable income.
But the reality for me has always been that I have had a second source of income. (And sometimes even a third and fourth source). I guess it's because as much as I love my art, I also like living well. And although I have been fortunate with my sales growth each year, it has been a stretch to live "normally" without another source of support.
So, in addition to my art studio, I have had part time jobs: paralegal, substitute teacher and, currently, I am working for an insurance broker. For me, having other work has actually enhanced my painting. Maybe because being an artist can be so isolating, or maybe I just am more productive when I exercise both the right and left sides of my brain. Whatever the reason, my other work has always been a good thing and made my studio time that much more efficient
Another thing I've done is invest in real estate. Twice in Indiana I used my art studio sales to buy property. It always made more sense to me to pay a mortgage with my studio income then pay someone else's mortgage in the form of rent. I first rented, then bought a small house in Zionsville, Indiana, that eventually became home to my children and me. Then I bought a small house in Oaklandon, Indiana, where I painted, had shows and worked on improving the property.
Then I bought a houes in the Hamptons. To be honest, I probably bit off a little more than I could chew. The past four years have been harder than I anticipated. I had to start all over with a client base out here, and still try to maintain the connections I made in Indiana. And I had a mortgage that was two or three times the size of any I had before. But the perk was the house came with a studio behind it. Electricity, it's own gas heat...even skylights. The nicest studio I've ever had. At any time, day or night, I can walk 10 feet out my back door and pick up a brush. For an artist, it doesn't get any better than that.
I'll take you inside next time.