Blog No. 5 / Surviving as an Artist in New York City / by steve joseph

I would hope my students find me to be direct and honest when I teach. I consciously try to be clear and patient, as I remember my best teachers at SVA (School of Visual Arts) and workshops at UrbanGlass had been for me, and use what I have learned in the past now. During my last class at Bild-Werk-Frauenau in Germany I asked what my students would like for me to blog about, and top on their list was... you guess it. “Surviving as an Artist in New York City” Thanks for the challenge guys!

So, here it goes. 8 tips on how to survive as an artist in a city which is becoming exceedingly more expensive. 
1. Own Property.
Invest as young as you can and aggressively pay off the mortgage.

2. Rent your home when you travel.

3. New York is were I work. There are many distractions that I don’t have time to invest my time in because I am working. There is a saying that your life is like a stove with 4 burners. The Friends burner, the Family burner, the Health burner and the Work burner. If you want to turn up one of these burners, you have to lower or turn off one of the others. If you want to excel with one, you have to turn off two others. My choice is to cut back on friends and family and turn up the work and health burners. Is it corny to say I feel my creations are my family? Yeah, that is pretty corny.

4. This is important: Don’t become a warehouse. Only buy supplies you will use on a current project, so your workspace remains open. Space gets cluttered easily, trash as much as you can.

5. Lifetime Memberships: I gave a good discount for a commission I made for a local theater. In return they generously made me a lifetime member, so I can attend any shows for free. I love it! Our relationship continues, I have been asked to exhibit in their lobby twice.

6. Take care of your friends with benefits. One generous friend reviews Broadway plays and musicals and constantly invites me to previews. An actor friend and director friend invites me to productions. In return I show my appreciation by helping them with graphic design work, making props for films and photography. 

7. Give yourself time to work with no pressure.. just love what you do.
Experiment, explore, take chances and do the best work ever.

8. There are tons of artists trying to get into exhibits in New York. I found it easier to show outside of the city and patiently work myself into shows here. With all shows you are building relationships with the staff. You never know who they will introduce you to, or what gallery they may move to next. If you both like how it works you may continue to show for years, if not you may want to get a divorce.

9. If these tips don’t work, prostitution and drug dealing are lucrative alternatives.