Stories

The text used in the assessment tools are great descriptors, but its stories that bring this work to life. 

Below is a growing portfolio of stories from artists and advocates from across the country that can be filtered on the assessment tools, spectrum, and categories.  You can turn on and off these filters by clicking on the buttons. 

Use these examples to help locate yourself on the assessment tool and see how to move up on the spectrum. Read our Guidebook for more suggestions on how you can use Artists Thrive, putting the tools to practice, and sparking conversations with Artists Thrive.

Have a story of your own to add?   Click here to submit it.

Finding Balance with a Day Job

 As an actor, I was having trouble finding work, so I took the suggestion of a colleague to apply to be a tour guide, since I’m a huge state history buff. I was hired to became a tour guide on one of the boats and would walk off the boats with wads of cash. Then one day, I got the call for a big acting gig. I went to my employer and said, “I’m going to reject the offer if it will conflict with my day job.” But my employer said, “We love you so much. Go do the gig – your job will be here when you get back.” I felt like this was an example of taking responsibility for this stage of my life and finding balance and steady work that is still supportive of my artistic pursuits. Since then, I’ve continued to do the boats and the tours, and that stable income and flexibility have me time to write, produce, and act in two films. So, I think that’s a success story because it’s about asking not just “How can I look at all aspects of my life and protect the creative person?,” but also, “What are my values? What do I want in my life right now? And how do I adjust so I can set those priorities and be honest to them?”

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Practice

Did You Promote the Show?

A former student left a comment on my blog about an unsuccessful exhibition. Her exhibition had a nice opening, but the work wasn’t selling. I actually emailed her, “Tell me what you did to promote the show,” because I had learned over the years we can’t trust galleries to do that. And she emailed me back “Oh my god, I thought I had done more. I sent out one email and one social media post.”

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Communicating and Connecting

Knowing What a Life as an Artist Can Look Like

Artist Diane Scott shares her first-hand experience with the importance of showing artists real examples of what making a life as an artist can actually look like to inspire them to imagine their own futures.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Planning and Capacity

Taking Control of Your Career

Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova shares his experience struggling with 'selling' his work and establishing a live/work balance.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Practice

Finding a Day Job that Is Supportive of Being an Artist

Artist Tamara Wilson describes how her relationship with money has evolved over time and different strategies she has tried for creating sustainability.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Money

Making Your Voice Heard

Artist Pat Shelton describes a time when her voice wasn’t being heard and how she overcame this challenge through increased communication and transparency.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Power

Knowing When to Move On

Artist Amy Meisner relays a story about an experience that taught her when to walk away and cut her losses when a situation isn’t working out.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Money

Times of Struggle Lead to New Opportunities

Artist Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova shares about times in his career when he struggled to balance artistic fulfillment and financial return, and also to balance community and family.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Communicating and Connecting

Finding the Compatibility in Being an Artist and a Mom

Artist Michelle Weinberg shares about her initial struggle to balance having an infant and being an artist and how the two ultimately fit together well.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Practice

Rural Artist Using Social Media to Reach a Broader Community

Tessa Dallarosa from Laramie, Wyoming describes how, as an artist working in a rural setting, social media is one of her biggest resources for connecting with a broader community, and yet, how she struggles with the inherent challenges of social media as well.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Communicating and Connecting

Ted Gillespie shares his artist story: "I Won't Waste Any More Days of My Life"

As a husband and a breadwinner, my art always took a backseat to life’s responsibilities. Today at 61, I can truly call myself an artist and love going to my studio every day. Throughout my life, I felt compelled to create art, but always felt I had to put other obligations first. I was unhappy going from job to job, went through two divorces, lost everything more than once and was suicidal at one point. No one took my art seriously, not even me, but I kept painting. A turning point for me was when a therapist asked “why don’t you paint what you want instead of what’s expected from you?” Today, I have been happily married for 14 years to a wife who is supportive of me and my artistic practice. I am more prolific and happier than I have ever been in my life. I manage my depression and it doesn’t manage me. I create the work I feel driven to make without being afraid whether it will be accepted by family, friends and society. I use my work to express my voice on politics, ecology, social and cultural conversations we tend to ignore.  I create because I have to and I hope people enjoy the work. If not, that’s okay. I won’t waste any more days of my life.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Practice

Waiting for that Lucky Break

What I see as a failure is an artist who hasn’t recognized red flags: you haven’t paid your rent for two or three months and you’re waiting for a lucky break. It’s more like an addiction or gambling, “I’m gonna get that lucky break” but meanwhile the ground is crumbling underneath you and there’s only so much that anyone else can do to offer crisis assistance, but at a certain point if the artist is working in isolation and not open to at least even trying something different, even just to stabilize him or herself, the resources won’t be enough and the artist may ultimately give up.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Give Up Practice