The Art Of Hustling: By @Thexbutcher


Tattooing is an alluring hustle for many because of two main factors: the freedom and the money! Tattooers ditch the old school thought of the 9 to 5 job to pursue a life of an adventure. But people rarely stop to analyze a tattooer's relationship with the mighty ole dollar & I'm here to tell you it's an exciting one. When I 1st started tattooing, the notion of the "starving artist" living check to check was always jammed down my throat by the older generations. Not knowing how lucrative the permanent art business can be, I was a little bit nervous about starting my journey because I didn't know if I could genuinely support myself long term. As an apprentice, of course, I was making scraps because I was still learning the techniques, but after about six months of daily hustle, I started seeing money pouring in, and I was on cloud 9. But I noticed a few important things with the art life that I got accustomed to at a young age. The tattoo business was a CASH business. We lived day to day with no sort of predictions or consistency. Some days we made $20; other days, we made $1,000 in a matter of a few hours. I always had cash in my pockets on any given day, but strangely I didn't know where the money went. I had a bank account, but I rarely made deposits into my bank account. I spent recklessly, and with no regard for the future, because I knew at any given moment, I could make all of the money back. The older tattooers I worked with/for did not speak to me about good money habits at all. They never talked to me about paying taxes, savings, or retirement funds. There was a trend here. A lot of the tattooers, at least a decade ago when I started, were previously involved in some hardcore lifestyles, maybe at times in the drug trade. I have said this from the beginning; many might not like that I have to say this, but it's the truth. The drug world and tattoo world go hand in hand with their relationship with money. In both worlds, you can make money under the table without genuinely having to report to anyone. You can travel freely and make tons of money without having to depend on anyone. They are fast lifestyles, and they are highly productive lifestyles. Once you get conditioned to working in this manner, it's hard to get out & find jobs comparable to these. So it's a lifestyle that takes complete hold of you. As one grows older and gains many more responsibilities, you have to begin to think about stability. Many of the artists that I knew that were in committed relationships or had kids started making some real-life decisions. Not having set up proper taxes and banking accounts does end up working against you in the long term. Many artists I knew set up more significant assets, homes, and cars, in the names of their significant others. To me, that's risky business because if the relationship goes sour, that person technically has the right to all of those assets. So in my late 20s, I started to get serious about financial stability and gaining ownership of assets of my very own. I got an apartment in my name alone to build an excellent rental history, and for one year, I stacked up my savings account and got my credit and my taxes in order. Once the year was up, I had found a house that I loved, that was a great price, and I bought it! So the myth of the "starving artist" was shattered, and I was able to prove to my family that I could provide a legit life for myself while doing art. But that year taught me that the artist's lifestyle was not only freedom, fun, and games. One word came to mind during this year "DISCIPLINE." Since artists have so much freedom they actually much teach themselves to be much more disciplined when it comes to money. They have to stick to the dreaded word, a budget. As an artists gets older they also must take their health into consideration. We are not immortal and their will come a time when our bodies can not keep up with the rigorous tattoo schedule. We must pay health insurance out of pocket. We must diligently pour into a retirement fund as we make money since one of the disadvantages of being an artist is that we don't have a big Fortune 500 company to provide these things for us or even give us unemployment checks in case of an emergency. In the wake of this virus pandemic me & all tattoo artists that i know are ordered to stop working for a few weeks. This change can be devastating for artists who don't have money saved for a rainy day. When I ended up getting a tattoo business of my own, I saw the need for financial education for younger artists that I employed. The knowledge about money was merely nonexistent in our communities. So I partnered with a financial advisor & we began to hold a series of free economic courses for artists and the self-employed. Quietly sitting down and spreading knowledge about smart money practices could have a significant impact on people's future. Here are a few financial tips that every artist should follow: 1- Create a LLC & a business bank account attached to the LLC. 2- Find a CPA that can help you work with to set up your taxes & then PAY YOUR TAXES properly! 3- Get a credit card and build good credit. 4- Set up health insurance and retirement funds that you regularly put money into. 5 - Gear your art money into smart investments and assets that will benefit you long term. 6 - Think about ways to diversify your income so that in the long run, you won't have to only depend on art money to thrive. I hope this blog has helped fellow artists put some thought towards the future. The future is bright for all of us. With a little more planning and discipline, we can set yourselves up for financial greatness for years to come!

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