Art as a living: making your hobby your job.
I have been working as a tattoo artist for the past 13 years. Starting out against the odds, going through a very rough apprenticeship and slowly but surely working my way to where I am now. I am by no stretch of the imagination well known in the tattoo scene nor have I been a part of it very long on a social level. But I have a shop in Bergen with my lovely friend, mentor and inspiration Jannicke Wiese Hansen, I have very loyal and cool clients that come to me for tattoo work and I have built a situation for myself that I am happy with. I want to develop and grow as an artist, tattooer and person so by no means do I feel like I have arrived. Im simply saying: Im very grateful for where I am today.
But through all of this, over the past 16 or so years, I have ..MANY times.. wondered if this path was good for me. If I could stick it out. If it was all worth it for me. I was more than a bit unsure . Many times.
Now, talking openly and honestly with other creative people from around the world that are also in their 30s, they all tell the same story. A story of work, joy, pain and doubt that make out the path they have been on to get to where they are today. We travel, we enjoy, we hurt, we laugh and we have all the glorious ups and downs of a life outside the comfort zone: a life worth living. Daring to belive that we are contributing to this world even if we are "just" doing art.
There is a price of uncertainty and change that we pay to live our "out of the box" lives. The disrespect from the establishment and from more conservative people around us that tell us to grow up and get "real" jobs, the ebb and flow of money that seems so very unpredictable and unstable, the great fears and the great hopes of an ambitious person trying to remain, or harder still: to become confident in the face of a hailstorm of pressure to conform and fit in to a more traditional mold than "artist" or "creative person".
Looking back Im amazed at how these 13 years went by so fast. I am feeling older.. but ,thankfully, also a bit wiser. I see now: on the flip side of some of the toughest years of my life (my 20s), the way forward in a whole different light:
There is much to be said for daring to live a little on the side of things. Even if you cry and suffer and fight for it at times. I do still pay a price and I know for a fact I will still go through many, many rough patches with my work and life because I refuse to get a "real" job and have a boss and do whats expected of me as a woman. But just like fine wine: my life IS tasting sweeter with time and the fruits of my labour are finally coming back to me in ways I could not have imagined ten or twenty years ago.
There is much to fight for and many reasons to never give up on drawing for a living, traveling the world and spend all day at work listening to very loud metal. I am not ment for regular 9 to 5 work. I am here to bring some strange and some beautiful into a world that is loosing its soul...its ability to dream and wonder.
I am, as an artist, here to express the fantasies and dreams and craziness that all humans hide inside their heads and hearts but might not be able to express themselves for lack of a medium to channel it through. And so are ALL artist. We are here to give physical form to all the cool things that we dream and think but cant see with the naked eye.
We are "manifestation machines" put here to make earth a really, really cool, colourful, imaginative and entertaining place to be. Music, paintings, drawings and books: they are worth more to the collective human spirit than any amount of money can ever match.
I am proud and thrilled to be part of this great, big process: in what ever little tiny way I am. We all should be, as artist, aware that its not about personal success or ego: but about contributing to this great wealth that is human culture and creative expression. Your contribution matters greatly: no matter its size or its form: it is so crucial and unique! Share your art with the world and please: never ever say sorry for it.