An Artist’s Life: The Home Studio

What are the perks (and quirks) of working from home?

The ever evolving technologies of the Internet has allowed many people to forgo the rush to clean up get ready and combat the nightmarish commute (especially in L.A.) to their workplace, and work from the comfort of their own homes. For some it’s the financial freedom away from the extra bills and monthly rents that comes with running a business. But of course there are some drawbacks to that, depending on your circumstances. If you are single and young it would be fine; if you’ve got a growing family, that’s another matter. Imagine trying to get some reports done under the stress of kids yelling from outside your room, if they even stay outside at all. You know what I mean. The same can be said about art studios.

Unfortunately I do not have the luxury of owning a spacious loft on the top floor of a skyscraper in the middle of downtown. Thanks to my parents I was allowed to set up my art practice in the bedroom I had shared with my sister for many years. Since scrapping the car studio I had searched around for some time for any affordable workspace near where I lived. But if you are living in California these days the word “affordable” is virtually nonexistent; or rather, it will probably get you a minimum of a 4×4 windowless room without a private bathroom (think Extra Space Storage). Now that I got a studio in the same roof where I’m living with my parents I am spared the hassle of battling traffic wasting precious time on the road as well as the expenses that follows such as gas and parking. It has now been six months now since I have started my studio and here are few things I have learned, the upsides and the downsides of working from home as an artist:

The Pros

  1. As I mentioned before, there is no need to dress up and hit the traffic. No waiting behind the wheels with every car moving inch by inch, no nutjob drivers trying to run you down, no worries about that shaky steel pipe that might roll out of the back of that pickup in front of you. And now with this coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe and goverments issuing orders for citizens to stay indoors makes it that much more convenient.
  2. Ease of expenses. Room rent, utility, internet, fully covered. My parents are not hounding me to pay my share thankfully; after all I am broke and unemployed. I do earn my keep of course by helping around and running errands regularly.
  3. Unlimited access to the studio space. Again since I don’t have to drive out through the nightmarish traffic I can simply walk in and out whenever I want, while living under the same roof. And I don’t need to go through the hassle of dressing up (or down)
  4. Security. All my tools and equipments right in my sight, so I don’t need to worry about any dumb burglars trying to break in and steal them. Yes the house is protected too.

And of course, there be the Cons

  1. Limited privacy. While my parents agreed to abide my working schedule it still does not stop them from occasionally calling me out when they need something. After all my mom is still a patient and needs lots of help. The bigger problem is Dad, who has a bad habit of poking his nose in whenever he darn pleases.
  2. It’s NOT my house. Even though I got my parents’ blessing it still no way means I can turn the room into a fantastic mess. I have to always take care to not stain the carpets with paint or chemicals, and tidy up the space when my work is done for the day.
  3. Isolation. There is that age-old belief that artists are loners and relish in the sense of isolation. That is true to some degree, but even artists need to socialize with their peers from time to time as a way to replenish their mind and spirit, as well as to keep up to date on local happenings and trends. Thanks to the Coronavirus scare however it’s become more difficult to step out to social events, and no matter how good virtual socializing can be it no way replace that natural human need to bond with other beings in physical presence.

When I think about it, it’s pretty clear that the Pros outweigh the Cons; I am learning to to adjust and adapt to everything I have listed in the Cons section. The last one is actually a doozy; I’ve been running solo my whole life since grade school that it hasn’t really affected me to this day. I still would like a large loft studio someday, but for now it’s best to hunker down and make my work at the comfort of my home (or rather, my parents’ home, hee).

I must make note here: Everything I write about here is solely based on my own personal observations and not a real scientific fact. So please for the love of God do not take anything you read here seriously and think it can work for you too. Because in this crazy world we live in there is no one-size-fits-all.

Take care everyone, and stay safe in this dark times.

An Artist’s Life: Enjoy the Ride, Wherever It Takes You…

In life there is never a single straight path.

Some of us might wish life did not have to be so complicated like a box of puzzles or a road with several splitting lanes. But again, if everything was drawn out in a single straight line you just follow, what would you actually accomplish? And are some things worth the effort to accomplish?

In my last post I did a bit of griping about not being able to follow through with my plans, though later I did manage to find a silver lining to the bust. Like the car studio I had planned back in early 2019. Albeit a bit cramped I managed to adapt and make the most of the limited space there was. After all ‘small living’ was becoming a trend when people were looking to downsize or start small during this unstable economic times. Looking back however I recalled how I always had to pack up and haul the equipment in and out of the car which took a lot of my precious time (I could not possibly leave all the stuff in the car or risk getting broken into and losing them). And while I had started this venture during winter, in the summer it gets amazingly hot inside the car and it would have been bad for me (I hate hot weather) and for my computer and other flammable supplies. So in the end it was probably for the better that I didn’t follow through with that car studio. On a more brighter note I got a bigger, better studio right in my room of the house!(More on that later)

I also recall the time I almost gave up my pursuit of art entirely and instead sought thrill and adventure by joining the army (Details here), and when I tried to pursue graduate study in theater arts which almost guaranteed a secure future if I put all my heart and soul into it (and I did, really, when I was prepping for it, and was ready). Find out why that never happened.

But there is no use in mulling over what could have been, especially when it has long passed. If only there was a RESET button like there is on the Playstation or the XBox-that will never happen though. Best thing to do is to look ahead and keep moving forward, and don’t look back. And keep an open, positive mindset; that will lower your stress level down pretty significantly. To quote the classic Nissan commercial tagline: Life is a Journey, Enjoy the Ride.

Especially with this deadly Coronavirus running amok and making people sick keeping a positive attitude is a must in order to preserve what little sanity you might have of being cooped up indoors. And all the more reason why I’m glad the car studio project fell flat and I am typing this from the comfort of my room.

Have great weekend, and stay safe everyone!

An Artist’s Life: Preparing for the Unexpected

Sometimes Life Will Throw Lemons in Your Way, Even a Lemon Tree…

There was an old say that goes, Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail.

But it’s a Fact. Life does not care about your stupid plans. If it did I would not even need to rant about this…

No matter how well plan ahead, how you carefully map your routes, how much you study and anticipate, there will always be that one bad fruit that will pass your eyes and you will not notice until take a big bite and the rotting taste gets down your throat and ruins your appetite.

In other words, your plans are not bulletproof.

Beginning of 2019 I came up with an idea to create a web series on my YouTube channel about setting up my art studio in the back of my Toyota RAV4 and documenting what goes on there. I had bought the necessary gadgets and carefully mapped out a schedule of the days I would film, then planned out at least several episodes to be released during summer (I’ve recorded all this down on a planner, something I was never used to doing my whole life). I even arranged to promote it on my social media channels and practiced speaking up which I had not been doing for so long my voice sounds like a sick witch. It was in part a way to overcome that ‘stage fright’ I used to have; I always hated going up in front of a big crowd and talking out loud. I was actually going to put myself on camera and let the world see my ‘pretty face’ for the first time in like never. After all, being an artist is no longer about shutting yourself inside and studio and paint all day, you have to put yourself out there letting the public know of your presence.

Barely two months in, however, I had to shut down the studio.

My mom contracted pneumonia and sepsis and was rushed to the hospital. Thankfully she was saved, then spent a month in rehab center as the illness ravaged much of her already weak body (she had undergone several chemos years before for lymphoma). It was another few months before she eventually regained enough strength. During that time I was by her side caring for her needs with help of course from other family members, but even as everything settled back down I felt too pooped to resume the project, and just abandoned it altogether.

I recently watched PARASITE, the Korean movie everyone had been raving about and is the first movie from that country to every win Oscars, and there was one scene where the father was talking to his son and this answer hit me:

You know what kind of plan never fails? No plan. No plan at all. You know why? Because life cannot be planned. Look around you. Did you think these people made a plan to sleep in the sports hall with you? But here we are now, sleeping together on the floor. So, there’s no need for a plan. You can’t go wrong with no plans. We don’t need to make a plan for anything. It doesn’t matter what will happen next. Even if the country gets destroyed or sold out, nobody cares. Got it?

Ki-taek(Song Kang-Ho) to his son Ki-woo(Choi Woo-shik), PARASITE, 2019

Looking back at my old planner, and how I had carefully written down my schedules and steps, ultimately not having gone through with it, that line from the movie said it all. Life is a road filled with many lanes and potholes, with occasional roadblocks and detours that will appear unexpectedly. You can never be fully prepared for anything, no matter how much time and money you spend preparing for it. And you know what, sometimes that can be a good thing, which of course depends on how you handle it. (I will save this part for another episode)

I’m not saying don’t bother with making plans. It does give you ground on which you can start working on whatever projects you have in mind. Just don’t get too married to it, and leave plenty of space for those unexpected drops of lemon that will fall on your path. Because that is Life.

Until Next Time…

An Artist’s Life: So Much to Do, So Little Time…

Is having more than one skillset a good thing or bad?

You can do anything, but not everything.

David Allen, Lifehacker

When I started my art practice in 2013, I wanted to try it all: painting, mixed media, collage, printmaking, modern, abstract, realism, you name it. I was not satisfied with sticking to just one medium or style. I guess it was my way to trying to find out what I was good at and where I can focus. Funny thing was, I liked all of them; I was unable to choose or settle down. I can blame my unchecked ADD for that. From then on I dabbled at every art and craft that piqued my interest spending dough after dough getting all the necessary supplies and how-to books to learn how to use them. At one point I began calling myself the Jack-Of-All-Trades-Master-Of-None Artist. Here is a list of all the crafts I have accumulated to date.

At the time it seemed like a good idea to know more than one technique or skill as an artist. And I had a blast at it. But later I learned the quirks of having too many things to do at once.

For one, there is no Time. I wake up, wash up, eat, run errands, take a rest, work on my stuff, and in a blink of an eye the day’s already over. Some days I just feel like a sloth and veg out on the sofa for half the day. I had crammed in my little cranium of all the things I want to complete-new bodies of work, an artbook, video series, an Etsy shop, etc. But Time just goes by so fast. And I go to bed every night feeling dejected because I didn’t accomplish what I had set out to do. Though the very next morning I open my eyes I’d be refreshed with renewed hope of getting things done, only to repeat the same thing. It’s almost like the movie Edge of Tomorrow where each day is set on continuous loop of the same old routine: get up, suit up, go into battle, get killed, back to start. Keep that up and it eventually becomes draining, physically and mentally.

For this reason, at the beginning of 2019 I made it a goal to set schedules for my activities. I had decided to make at least three days a week a “studio day” or “me day” so I would have several hours of uninterrupted time for myself to do the things I want to do. Then I set up certain days/weeks/months for certain project and so forth. Instead of trying to cram several different projects to complete in one day I would spread it out designating what days or weeks I would specifically work on that particular project. I even got myself a daily planner to write it all down, something I was never good at. In doing so I felt like I was more disciplined and organized, a load of rocks lifted off my shoulders and I was more relaxed. I couldn’t believe it took me this long to realize the benefits of planning and keeping schedules; always working out of chaos might sound thrilling but eventually it catches up to you physically and mentally.

But alas I forgot the one other thing to consider when making plans. Which is to always expect the unexpected. But that’s another story…