From one extreme to the next, there is a percentage of Americans who never had the luxury of a trust fund, don’t live with family, do whatever odd jobs they need in order to make ends meet, are self taught and intelligent. They are artists, they are entrepreneurs, and they are your friends.
Artists and entrepreneurs, especially in commercial photography and fine art, know what it means to hustle in order to move their careers forward. Those who are successful are smart about how they go about it and know when to engage in a conversation and when to back off. We all know someone who fits this description. Just ask all the random people I’ve met throughout my life. If they had that token friend, they would probably point to me or maybe that cousin they don’t talk to all that much because he’s either in Bali, Guatemala, or some rural state in the US living off the land. Okay, so maybe I don’t go to that extreme, but I do understand the hustle of being an artist, no matter what the medium – fine art, commercial photography, music, you name it. I understand, because that was me, last month on my Taiga Tour.
“Hustlers possess the ability to create their own path, which is why so many people labeled as being hustlers are such successful entrepreneurs.” – David Marantz, Founder of Direct Life Settlements, quoted for Entrepreneur Magazine
4:00 AM – June 27, 2017:
I arrive at SeaTac after dropping Pearl (my beloved and trustworthy car) off at the furthest away, yet cheapest, third party airport parking lot. I wait in what looks like the longest human line ever, next to the unfortunate airport employee holding a tall sign that says “End of Line.” Confused at this early-morning situation, I observe the large amount of tired, angry travelers who suspiciously eye the empty security lines of the privately run “free for now until we decide to charge you” CLEAR company. I watch as a young girl opts in to the CLEAR propaganda and gets her retina scanned. I then wonder how long it will take for a hacker to claim her last undocumented form of external identification. By 6 AM I’m on my Alaska Airlines flight to Los Angeles and immediately sweet-talk the flight attendants into allowing me to carry on three items. I’m carting around about $25K in fine art and am not about to let it out of my sight.
Two hours and forty-two minutes later I change into my “gallery attire” in the LA airport bathroom as I freshen up with a wet wipe to my face, pits, and god forbid I mention anywhere else. I migrate to the rental car line, awkwardly holding two portfolio cases, a carry-on bag of clothes for the next month, another roller suitcase, a canvas purse and my computer backpack. As I slowly scoot my entourage forward, my shoulders ache. My backpack literally holds my entire mobile office and as many KIND bars and instant coffee packets as will fit, which will likely be my breakfast and lunch for the next 30 days. I try not to sweat through my shirt in the 90 degree heat as I curse my mobile weather app that said 75 and breezy in southern California.
I’m painting you this picture because it’s important to the other 98% of the population who aren’t entrepreneurs or artists to perhaps glean a little insight into our world. So even after all that, I know the feeling of being ignored via email by art directors, art galleries, producers, agency elites, agency assistants, and yes, the person at an ad agency that probably only gets coffee and delivers lunch to their millennial staff who lounge in hammocks while at work on “campus.” I understand the frustration of not being taken seriously, looking too young, looking too old, being female, lost in the mix, responded to rudely, and even flipped off by someone with road rage that I still can’t figure out why.
Then, it happens! I get through to one person. The next stop, another person. Then there’s a chance I revert back to the look that says, “Nice try, bitch, but if you don’t have an appointment, then don’t waste my time.” It happens, and when you’re hustlin’ you can’t be afraid to take chances and test people’s boundaries every so often.
“[On freelancing] Hustle or die trying.” – Susannah Breslin, Forbes
I will reiterate, artists and entrepreneurs, know what it means to hustle. They know that when opportunities arise, they’re worth pursuing because you never know who or what it could lead to, no matter how crazy it all may seem. Most importantly, they know when you meet people, listen to them, find a way to be memorable in the first few minutes, and develop a personal connection. Your network is your family, and when you’re a hustler, traveling from one work opportunity to the next, you will need and have family everywhere you go if you keep your network strong – and that’s when you will start to see momentum.
Now that I’m back in the Pacific Northwest, the momentum is contagious from my time in California. I’m still taking chances, building on new and existing relationships, listening, learning, and most of all, hustlin’.
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln
Taiga Creative represents commercial photographers and fine art artists around the globe, and specifically in San Diego and Los Angeles California, Portland Oregon, and Hong Kong China. Contact Meredith if you have questions on any of her artists! Link to artist portfolios HERE.
Cover photo by NashCo Photo from their series “Headliners”