This is tough time for my fellow artists for sure. I’ve just about seen it all from my humble beginning in my parents’ tiny basement, to owning my own shop and having employees.
I got my start in the sign business painting MDO signs, and lettering trucks. I even did a little pinstriping on the side. After a couple of years, I had a customer tell me “you need to paint motorcycles in Laconia.” The Laconia, NH motorcycle rally is one of the oldest in the country. I knew nothing about working out on the road, but it sounded like fun so i agreed to check it out. I found out what I needed to work the rally: I needed a license from the state- Check, needed supplies- Check, needed a place to work… uh? Ok… where do the pinstripers work? Now I needed to do some recon for a good place to set up! So I headed up to where the rally took place, and drove around, asked questions, and finally found a place to work. I made a deal with the owner of a motel and was to set up in his parking lot for the rally.
Now at the time, I had never worked outdoors, and didn’t realize that I’d need a tent to work out of… DUH! So I had to set up with a card table my paint and brush box little banner and photo album… minus a tent. In the sun. In the wind….with no TENT! AND did I mention I was on a budget, and I had to sleep there in the parking lot in my 72 Nova? talk about working in the trenches! But it all worked out! I made more that weekend than I had the previous month painting signs! I liked this! Now I had to buy a tent! Welcome to road doggin’! When I was there painting and getting one hell of a sunburn, (because I HAD NO TENT!) I was invited to attend other rallies around New England. There are several all over the the country, all summer, but I had to learn to pick and choose which ones where worth going to, and which ones would cost you more to attend than I’d make.
It was hard work, and the traveling sucked till you got there, and then you had to drive all the way back. But it was fun, you got to see the country and meet all kinds of people, the good the bad and the …strange! Hahaha! I have met some life long friends out on the road. It was working on the rally circuit where I learned to work fast! Time was money out there, and the faster you could get this job done well and get paid for it, the sooner the next customer could come in. My tent was like a McDonald’s drive thru!
After working on the road for several years, I left the circuit to pursue a career in airbrushing! So I folded up the tent and got a shop. It was nice to not be working out in the heat, rain, wind, and drunks! Lol!
I have to tell you, I love working in my own shop surrounded by some really cool artwork! I have television, food, music, a paint booth, comfortable couches and more. It really feels like I’m working at home here. I love what I do so much, that it doesn’t feel like a job, and I wouldn’t want to trade it for anything. I sometimes miss being a road dog, traveling to tourist locations, and seeing new sights, but I get over it soon enough.
I learned a lot about work, gained speed, and learned a lot about people in general. It was hard work, good money, and was full of adventure. And I wouldn’t go back if you asked me to! But I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.