Yes, it's true. I can build a walking robot.....
But I cannot seem to figure out how to earn an income in Taos.
As I go through my mental inventory of art projects and sculptures that I have wanted to build in the last few years, one thing becomes clear..... Which is that the most significant thing stopping me from actually building these ideas is a lack of funds. From a certain philosophical point of view, it seems a damn shame that projects such as these, which I think are interesting and worth building, should be arrested at the idea phase because they are too expensive to build.
I had a pretty good balance going on when I lived in LA. The movie industry afforded the possibility of a lifestyle in which I could work for a few months here and there, for anywhere between $40 and $50 an hour, and make enough money to not only pay my bills for the next few months, but actually build some art. I do not remember ever encountering a situation in LA in which I wanted to build a piece of art, but was unable to do so because of lack of funds.
And now I am in New Mexico, where I have a wonderful shop, and the time and space to build things, but no money. And what's worse than no money is no prospects (currently) for making any money. At some point in the last year or so I was faced with a situation where I needed to earn a few hundred dollars, and I realized that I have no idea how to make a few hundred dollars in Taos.
I could stage a robot show.... but that doesn't really make money, even in a city. I could run off to LA for a while, and do some effects work.... but that is really very inconvenient, especially now with a baby on the way. I could try to get a job in town, but with the wages that they pay in New Mexico, that is a very poor approach to making an income. I could try to book the Hand of Man somewhere... but that would not be in Taos, and that is a pretty poor way to make money too.
If I am smart enough to build a robot, I should probably be smart enough to come up with a way to make a living. But I do not want to run a business.... at least not the kind of business that takes over your life. From what I have seen, businesses become so demanding of people's time that they have no time for anything else. That would really defeat the purpose, which is to use up as little time as possible to make enough money to fund the building of art and the paying of the bills, thereby leaving time to actually make the art.
I have an excellent shop, and excellent skills, and no idea what to do with them.
Building art for sale increasingly looks like a dead end. I have not given up on it, and I would absolutely love to be proved wrong. But my god, I have shown my sculptures so many times, for sale at prices that barely cover my time and materials, and they don't sell. Maybe my sculpture is ahead of its time. Or maybe its just bad. Either way, trying to fund the making of art by selling art seems like a no-win situation, for me at least. A gallerist or agent who believed in me might help.
Yes, there is a movie industry here in New Mexico. And yes, I did join the union, as required, so that I could work here. But those two months working on Thor were filled with the most demeaning, mind-numbing work I have performed since I worked for Disney twelve years ago. I quit Disney after six days. I should have quit Thor but I couldn't afford to. I will go back to work in the New Mexico movie union if I have to, but only as a last resort. And by the way, that work is not in Taos. Spending weeks at a time in Santa Fe, away from my family, is really not all that different from spending weeks at a time in LA.
•I could convert people's old vehicles to electric. Maybe there's a market for that.
•I could come up with some kind of little product that people need, and sell it on the internet. Generally speaking, this seems like a good direction to go in, but... I need to figure out what that product is.
•I could make little art-things and try to sell them on Etsy.
•I could learn Solidworks and try to become a mechanical designer for hire... but that would almost certainly not be in Taos.
•I could try to sell the Hand of Man on eBay for $100,000. That money would go a long way, and to some readers that might sound like a lot of money to ask for such a sculpture... But you can bet that if I had an art agent or gallerist on my side, the Hand would be on the market for several times that price (and would be more likely to sell!)
When I moved here, I thought the money thing would just work out. It's always worked out for me before.... But I failed to take into account the facts that there was demand for my skills in California which does not exist here, and there is money in California too.
I have to apply my brain to this problem of making money. I have to solve this problem.
*The title of this post was also the title of a robot show I performed in LA many years ago.