Many of my clients know that I have a religious/spiritual side that I lean on quite heavily. I’m not going to get preachy here. Suffice it to say it is said that God helps those who help themselves.
When we were first married, Hubby was an artist. A painter to be precise. We struggled on for a few years with him trying to eke out a living by producing and selling his artwork. Sometimes it went okay, most of the time it didn’t – and that was a part of what pushed me into the holistic healing venue.
About 20 years ago, with baby #6 having just arrived, it was clear Hubby’s art career wasn’t cutting it. An economic recession here destroyed the art market. We had some pretty ugly options to look at. The first one was for him to work in the oilfields as a directional drilling technician. He’s smart. He picked it up really fast. The problem was he was out for 10 – 21 days, then home for 3 – 7 days. Here I was with six kids ranging in age from newborn to 16, with a couple of teens who were giving me a run for my money. It wasn’t good. The exploration company he was working for folded after he did three stints – and we were back at square one.
He started looking for a trade. SAIT (the tech school here in Calgary) had courses in house framing. He applied and was told the course was full, but there was room in the hardwood floor program. It included meager pay during an apprenticeship period with a strong likelihood of being hired by whomever he apprenticed with. There he was at 40 years of age starting a new, physically demanding, trade. While the work was hard, it was clear he was a natural. It made sense. It came easily.
He worked with his apprenticing company for seven years before setting out on this own. He stayed in the industry for another 13 years, training two of our sons along the way. One of the boys now has his own hardwood flooring company in another city. The other has moved on to study heavy duty mechanics.
We knew the end of his flooring career was coming when, about a year ago, he started ‘hurting’ too much after a day of work. So, we set a ‘quit date’ for early July 2015. As he got calls in May and June asking him to do quotes on jobs, he started turning them down and referring them to other tradesmen whose work he had confidence in. On July 7 he was done. And so the leap of faith began. Since he was the business, there was nothing to sell. He simply took down his shingle and walked away. Walked away with no pension, no income, no “Employment Insurance’ payments coming in. Such is the life of a self-employed entrepreneur in small business.
But he had a plan. Restart his art career. He has painted hard for the past 4 months. He has also crafted and built his own frames and started learning how to market online. You might not know this – galleries take the lion’s share of any piece they sell. They frame the pieces. When a piece sells, they first take the retail cost of the frame, then typically take 50 – 60% of what’s left as their commission. An artist will typically take home, before taxes, about $800 – $1000 from a painting that sold for $2500. If the painting doesn’t sell and it goes back to the artist, the artist must pay the gallery the retail price of the frame, even if he doesn’t like it and doesn’t want it. Hence, Hubby is anxious to create his career without a gallery.
Hubby had his first self-hosted, one-man show of his career on November 19. It was a bigger success than we had dared hope for. While he didn’t earn enough to take me to Hawaii for Christmas, he now knows he can have his career as an artist. He will be successful. It will just take more time, more hard work, more learning, and more faith.
You can see his work at www.howardcobb.com.