All week we’ll be featuring participating collaborative artists for the White Van Custom Vans & Custom Van Art Show happening at the brewery on Saturday, May 12 at 6PM.
A typical day for me starts with being woken up by my bird rustling around in her cage, letting her out and making my first cup of coffee to drink while answering the most pressing emails of the day. Next I pack her up in her little bird backpack to head to the studio, and getting Dark Matter coffee along the way. Once I'm at the studio, how I spend my time there is heavily dependent on whether I have client work with an approaching deadline, or if I need to spend time screen printing or sewing products for orders that need to go in the mail. It tends to be a mix of those things, plus a meeting or two, and generally at least one unusual project to take a break from client projects to work on instead (like the white van, or a lowbrow customs tank I painted last week for Babes Ride Out).
Deciding to start my business in Chicago is something I still was a very important decision, because it's allowed me to become good friends with some incredibly talented and helpful people, and I'm also close to virtually any kinds of tools and/or resources I may need for a project I'm working on. Having lived in smaller cities than Chicago, I can speak to how much a difference that makes when you're the kind of creative that works on as many projects at as fast of a pace as I like to. An example of Chicago impacting my work is the first sculpture piece I made when I launched Vichcraft, which was a proposed piece for a lettering and Typography show called Typeforce. My concept was a large panel that would have 20,000+ bullets strategically placed on it to create a historically informed, beautiful but dark piece that says " Greetings from Chicago, the City Beautiful". The concept was inspired by Chicago's current relationship to gun violence, but also it's history of repeatedly dismissing disenfranchised communities of people in favor of supporting affluent neighborhoods and grandiose design and architecture endeavors. When the project deadline was rapidly approaching, I realized I would be significantly short on the number of bullets I'd need to finish, and through a lot of fast but thorough research, I was able to find a jewelry designer in Chicago who uses the same (.22 caliber) bullets in his bracelets, and he was willing to meet up and sell me thousands of casings to finish my artwork. Had I been in another city, with less resources and perhaps a less supportive arts community, the Chicago-inspired sculpture likely wouldn't have been finished in time for the show.
Don't wait until someone gives you permission to make something, think something, stand for something. Don’t require yourself to gain a certain number of years of experience before you consider yourself credible and valuable. Let your talent and tenacity speak for itself, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re worth less than you believe yourself to be.
Besides stability and a clear path for how to grow my (somewhat unconventional) business, I've also sacrificed the ability to fail and learn under the protection of a larger collective or company. One of the most intimidating things with making the work that I do is trying to foresee whether I'll be able to continue to stand behind it as a transparently one-person business. People who work under a boss or a with a larger team are able to dodge accountability in a way that I'll never be able to, but that sacrifice has also allowed me to make work and make decisions that I'd never be able to unless I was a one-person business, waiting for no boss's approval.