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There are those who would like to express how we are so much happier doing this than the grind of a corporate career.

Well some comparisons:

If you are happier now, in the Art Fair business...

What you say may be true, to a certain extent but... In corporate, you always got a pay check. Although the "Buck stops here" might have applied, someone else was able to handle some of the issues. You were not the shipper as well as the transporter, assembler, purchasing agent, sales manager & salesperson, inventory control, loss prevention, security, advertising exec, maintenance, accountant, display designer, travel agent, manufacturer, engineer, public relations, general laborer as well as CEO. 

As well as if I take a day off or a weeks vacation no one wants to pay me.

Where is my company car?

Health benefits?


What is the worst?....

Being self employed in this field, I think my boss is an SOB  :-)

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Hmmm, I guess no one worked in corporate, to compare?

I was a Ph.D. research/exploration geologist in the mining industry for 22 years and two outfits (1969-1990). Right out of grad school I went to work for Kennecott Copper. They had excellent post-grad training at one of their mines. It was a lot of fun. Manager of the exploration office was real SOB and after two years I had staff seniority of about 8 geologists. I was honest about why I left, and he never found another manager position n Tucson. I had no problem finding another job and, in the interviews, they were more or less apologetic about the way the guy treated the geologists.

The second outfit was Union Oil’s mining/exploration group, later called Molycorp. That too was fun, and I had money to equip a mineralogy lab with microscopes, cameras, etc. and I had a budget to use a scanning electron microscope at the university. I did a three-year research study at the world’s leading lanthanide mine in CA, then did mineralogical work on worldwide projects, but I only did field work in Canada and the US. That too was a lot of fun. In 1985, staff was cut 75%. Thereafter, senior management in CA could not make up their mind what they wanted us geologists to do. One week it was explore for gold, then the next week it was go explore for specialty metals. Things got really crazy when the wing-tip shoe crowd in CA thought they could explore better than us. These were the guys who would go skiing rather than meet with Australians with gold properties who were flying in on a weekend. NOT FUN!  Finally, UNOCAL decided to get out of mining and the sent all us 20-year people a Fax that we were gone by end of year.

I had served a 6-year apprenticeship in saddlery trade back in 1959-65 and I continued to do leather work part time all during the geology years. The first couple full time years were difficult but eventually it all worked out. I now do 4-5 FUN shows in Colorado during the summer. During the winter I restore collectible antique saddles and gear, and I build trick saddles and gear for clients in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. All my clients are athletic gorgeous young women “daredevils” doing gymnastics on galloping horses. To say I am having fun with my artwork at 76 is an understatement. I love the hugs.

Comparison: In mining I was never paid what I was worth until high powered consulting firm told management they had to pay mining people same as oil/gas people and high-level techs need to be paid same as managers.  Saddlery, I don’t pay myself a wage but take money out paying down money “lent” to business over 20 years of geology. With geology I was away from home months at a time. Saddlery: I go downstairs to my studio. Geology: I got a new 4WD truck every couple years. Saddlery: I’m doing body work on my ’88 suburban. Geology: I got Unocal stock. Saddlery: I invest my own money. Two hands can only earn so much. Last manager I worked for was another old SOB who was just putting in time until retirement. I outlived him. I like working outside a couple hours in the morning, taking naps after lunch and working late. Managers would grouse about taking a couple days off after being in the field for a couple months. You couldn’t get the work done at high altitudes by taking weekends off in the field. I no longer have to deal with “bad science” accepted by management, In-house promoters (not really acting like geologists) and buffoons in management – the wing-tip shoe crowd in Los Angeles.

That doesn't look like my old Bona Allen? 

Of course mine had the Cantle torn after my Blue Rohn flipped on me, while doing a slid stop in a Gymkhana event.

I wound up on crutches for a few weeks also.

I never had a white one either. I wouldn't have wanted to try and keep it clean :-)

BTW having that bare saddle horn would scare me.

White has been traditional for trick saddles since before WWII. I think it gives the riders more options with colors for their costumes. I did do a black one for a young male rider. Riders typically tape the horn for better grip. Some are as tall as 7" for large hands. Definitely not your usual riding saddle.

Just completed Winter Park. Had to dolly in and out. Across grass field, across two sets of railroad tracks, work my cart off the sidewalk, down over the curb, around the police mobile command motorhome, get my cart back up on sidewalk over the curb, enter the show perimeter, and then continue to my site which was the farthest one away. And I had to do this ritual about 4 times (one cart-lots of stuff).

Looking back over the weekend, I wouldn't trade this scenario for any corporate job, or small business job, or any job working for someone else.

If you want a steady paycheck, hospitalization, benefits, get a corporate job. But if want to sweat, starve, drive thousands of miles a year, work every holiday, become an artist. I'm glad I did!

I was never corporate, it just didn't run in my family, mostly small business owners and I was in the first generation to go to college, not the first college graduate, my two older brothers got there first. I left my last "job" in 1984, walking away from tenure and a very decent pension in the Detroit Public schools, with an MA and a cool job as a reading specialist visiting schools. I just couldn't stand doing the "same old, same old" day after day.

I'd met my next husband who was a fine art photographer, a high school dropout who worked as a Teamster in an appliance warehouse. We'd visit art fairs and he'd always say after we walked out of a booth, "I'm better than that guy." So, I said, "prove it." His father had built him a darkroom when he was 13 and loved the chemical processes, the light, the possibilities of creating. He did prove it. 

I loved the traveling, knowing I'd be in Florida every winter, I'd be seeing friends in Denver, Minneapolis, Ann Arbor, Kansas City with regularity and the travel! I'd not gotten an art degree because "no one ever makes a living with art." Right. If you're not good at being tied down, you have a passion for creating, you can embrace the challenges, you're in good health (you can get that fully loaded dolly over the railroad tracks multiple times) this is the life for you. Me too, although now relegated to my computer.

One of my brothers (the only corporate guy in the whole large family) also had that creative spark but a PhD in Electrical Engineering, worked for Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies and has many patents to his name. At 78 still working on government contracts, traveling the world for work, and balancing his life. We have a lot to talk about when we get together.

In my early days, in photography. As a youth. I was 15 and doing the photography for the resorts in the Poconos, of Pennsylvania. I was also doing newspaper photography. I had the "artist" bug. Unfortunately none of the employers wanted that. The newspapers wanted documentary work. The resorts wanted the beautiful color shots to sell the quests. 

So, I decided to do my own thing, in the off hours.  I would walk around shooting B&W of the people in my wacky, creative way.  The people & resorts loved it so much, it was selling nicely. I was making about $350/ weekend. Back then, that was good money. The studio got wind of it and tried to fight me on it, claiming they deserved the money. Saying I was using their equipment, chemicals, etc. Then, after a fight, they found out, I was using my own equipment anyway it was better than their gear). My equipment, my chemicals, my darkroom = my rights. I left them and went on with the photojournalism. They tolerated my idiosyncrasies, letting me do a bunch of my own work in their lab (it was nicer than mine). The trick was at least half the roll of film had to be of work they wanted. Then I could use the rest for my work. I went on to run some very well known studios. However I HATED the studio work. Still do. I have been in the corporate world. Done the corporate management route. a strong multitasker. I've run my own companies while working for others.  I've always done my photography but it wasn't till later in life I had the freedom to just do the artistic work and support my lifestyle with it. One thing I had in my corporate life which is similar to my artist life. I was always able to have a lot of freedom in my hours, activities and not answering to anyone over my shoulder. I made sure I was in positions to be mostly autonomous.  If it wasn't for a very bad marriage to the wrong person and a vile divorce, I would be able to just do my art without caring about the monetary end. As a result, unfortunately the monetary is of concern also, now. So my passion remains. I just have to keep the business side active also.  I NEVER wanted to watch a clock. Have not worn a watch for about 40 years. I will always continue to do my art. Just not sure what I want to be, when I grow up.

Good story. Yep, my husband wanted nothing to do with studio life also. Hated to work for others and frankly I think incapable of doing that. 

I took off my watch in 1984 and the pantyhose and the rest of the gear.


I am still in self employed day job and trying to make art my full time gig.  

Because of this 1/2 torn up ping ponging life is rather fragmented.  But my corporate bosses, back when I worked in a bank, always told me how to dress, what hours to be there and what to sell.

I’d still rather be this fragmented 1/2 time artist, 1/2 time day job and working for this crazy lady, me!!

I keep asking my boss for a raise... nope, he wont do it.

I threaten to quit... he doesn't care. Maybe I'll be replaced by a vacancy.


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