Saturday, January 9, 2010

Denise on Making a Living out of Art

"I have been selling at Eastern Market since 1992. In some ways, the market hasn't changed that much although there are more imported items for sale now. Otherwise, the street wasn't closed off and most of the vendors were up on the plaza. When I started, people from outside the area used to tell me this place was full of crime and someone once told me it was the worst part of D.C. Even before they revitalized Eastern Market, I certainly never thought it was the worst neighborhood in D.C. Most of these people had never been here, but because of the Southeast label, so many people just assumed it to be the ghetto. It had its rough times, for sure, but you see how it has changed now. Just look at the kinds of people who are coming to and living around the market.  

"When I started, I was selling hand-made journals and paper products. I knew a lot of people who were artists or made jewelry, but they did it as hobbies and for their friends. Many people don't think about making a living out of art. I don't remember the exact point when I thought about converting my art into a job, but I just always knew that I wanted to do it. At some point, you should just do what you want to do and see what happens. It has been hard for me at times because D.C. is an expensive city, but when I need, I supplement my work here by bartending or waitressing. Otherwise, I am out here most every weekend. I mean, today is windy and 29 degrees and I am still out here. Although I have to say that 20 degrees is probably my breaking point. 

"You know, it is hard to make a decent wage when you are selling your own art work. But, I think that Eastern Market is a unique market because many artists and painters can make a living selling their things here. When you say market, many people think it is a place where you spend $2 on something. Here, there are a lot of people who understand the quality of handmade stuff and are ready to put down some money for a quality item. So, it's unique in that sense." 

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