Artists: The Creative Entrepreneurs

“Artists want money so they can make more art; entrepreneurs want money so they can make more money.” – Andrew Horwitz

Spring Green 2012 Prize

Receiving my “Best of” Ribbon at Spring Green, WI Art Show. (Summer 2012).

I’m not sure I completely agree with the entire article but it raises some good issues.

Tragically, I do think we live in a culture that believes, “because artists don’t hold the making of money as their highest value, [artists] must therefore be simple and naive.”

Talk about stereotyping!

The truth is, I do everything any other self-employed small business entrepreneur does. I manage my cash-flow, I create a brand, I promote my business and search for the right market that allows me to sell my work for a profit.

And I work hard.

And, like any other good business owner, I reinvest my profits back into my business so that I can continue to grow.

Ford makes and sells cars, Nucor makes and sells steel and I make and sell vintage and Americana themed oil paintings and murals.

I see little difference in our goals, just our Visions.


Love is a Rose and Life is a Canvas

Love is a Rose Neil Young - 1My first three passions in life, after my kids, are genealogical history, vintage Americana, and what I feel is great music. All of those passions come together in my paintings.

I spent most of the 90s following the grunge and punk scene in the Twin Cities. Essentially, going to see original bands every night throughout the Minneapolis and St. Paul region. My girlfriends and I spent hundreds of hours going from music bar to music bar following the best acts in the upper Midwest. On any night you could find us at the Turf Club, Uptown Bar (now gone), Cabooze, 400 Bar (also gone), and of course, First Ave.

Plus dozens and dozens of now lost and forgotten dives and corner music clubs. Live original music? We were there.

We were like postmen, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” kept us from following Soul Asylum, Jayhawks, Honeydogs, Trip Shakespeare, The Suburbs, The Phones, Blue Up and dozens of other bands from location to location across the Twin Cities.

And, like the clubs, dozens and dozens of great, but now lost and forgotten, musicians and bands.

Sidebar: Because of the lyrics this is mostly a NSFW video

In our free time we shopped at thrift stores and that is when I started picking up vintage leather jackets. I thought “I could paint these up and use them as my canvases.”  I researched paints and dyes and found a great dye that I could brush on and they would be highly wearable and not crack.  This was long before YouTube and the internet so the research was done old school.

As such, for several years I painted original themed surrealism and abstracts on a broad range of canvases including on my vintage leather coats and boots. At one time I had 30 or 40 coats I gave away or sold.  I even had one stolen when I was a student in Germany.

A few weeks ago my Partner was digging through the garage when he stumbled upon the last five of these jackets. He brought them into the house and he took pictures of me wearing them. He then uploaded them to Facebook, Google+ and a few other of my Vintage Painter social media sites.

It was interesting to see people’s reactions.

Sidebar: Yes, I know there is only four of the five here. My Partner wants me to keep the fifth one for a while. He has some plans for it.


Most people who have met me over the last 10 years assume I only paint vintage and Americana themes. They never thought about what else I paint or have painted. I generally only show my Vintage Painter work publicly and am very protective of my brand and my Vision. Right now that is how I want to be known but I have a large collection of other work that is in my basement and in my studio.

The hand-dyed and painted vintage leather coats were amongst them.

As an artist I am very Vision oriented. When you look at the jackets, each one is very original.  I let the jackets speak to me and they would tell me what they wanted painted.  I’m not sure non-creatives can completely understand what that means, and I’m not sure how else to explain it, but that is how it works.Love is a Rose Neil Young - 2

When I found a beautiful tan fringed leather jacket, I instantly knew it would become my “Love is a Rose,” Neil Young jacket.

This jacket features three of my loves – surrealism, dogs and Mr. Neil Young and his song Love is a Rose.

I guess that is four things.

Sidebar: This video is completely safe for work.

Nevertheless, a few weeks after my Partner posted the pictures online, the Neil Young Fan Club contacted me and they wanted to write a little post about the coat.

I was honored.

After some thought, I’ve decided to sell the coats – no reason to hang onto them – and try to do some good at the same time. The first coat looking for a new home will be the “Love is a Rose” coat.

I’m selling it through my eBay store with a starting minimum bid of $75. Of that, 25% will be going to Neil Young’s personal charity, The Bridge School. The school offers an innovative program for educating children with severe speech and physical impairments.

Depending on the response, over the next several months I will be selling the other coats too. Hopefully, they will find a good home. Please help me spread the word. Below are some pictures of the other coats.

My Partner has already started to dig though some of my other art relics. It will be interesting to see what else pops up.

“Love is a Rose”

Click to visit the auction on eBay

The Other Coats

Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

My family. The 80's were a a strange time for hair.

My family. The 80’s were a strange time for hair.

On my way home from a little art show at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Madison, WI last month my van quit on the interstate. Between the hotel, towing and new fuel pump it basically wiped out my show earnings. Which was also my Christmas money for the boys.

When we arrived home a day late and more than a few dollars short, the van quit again.

Apparently it wasn’t the fuel pump.

It would have been simple to have a melt down over the whole event. In reality that is life. Things happen. Then something else happens, and then something else. And over and over. What would a meltdown have achieved?

But we made a move and made the best of it.

Christmas was very lean (my partner and I didn’t exchange gifts) and we found a garage to work on it close to home. They let us leave the van there until we were able to get the money together.

One of my favorite clients at the 2013 Deep Ellum Art Fair.

One of my favorite clients at the 2013 Deep Ellum Art Fair.

However, in the last few days I started to feel a bit overwhelmed by some of the fallout. I’m going to miss one of my favorite art shows in Deep Ellum, TX because of finances. We had to buy a starter for the van, the boys had a birthday and some little nickel and dime expenses cropped up. Plus, I’m actively working to buy the house my mom left us from my siblings; the appraisal, probable home inspection and other costs are wearing out the clasp on my purse.

So as I meditated on it this article came to my attention. It really helped.

Since reading it I have tried to focus on the positive – no more shows until April, we made it home safely, we have the money to fix it – again. The van has been fantastic and this is the first money we have had to put into it. The closing is moving forward and the boys had a nice birthday (whether they know it or not). Plus we have wonderful families.

The other bit of reality, is that regardless if I had a “traditional” job, every business has the occasional cash-flow issue.

This isn’t an issue of whether or not my business is viable but whether I am willing to make the adjustments to my business to better fit the situation. We have been challenged to make some changes to my market approach in order to turn this problem into an opportunity. It is different and scary but as my partner has worked on these changes it has become obvious that there is something new and exciting happening to my business.

Most importantly, I finally have a Partner that doesn’t try to shame, humiliate or ridicule me. He stands-up for me and doesn’t believe in “his” team and “my” team. He doesn’t try to put me in the box or judge me for my beliefs or experiences. He has my back.

Plus, one of the reasons he loves me is because of my Vision. He is not jealous or afraid of me having a Vision and a life.

I’m very lucky he found me. And in truth, he tells me he is lucky I found him.

Life isn’t perfect but it is as good as we make it. 

First day with my van two years and over 20K miles ago.

First day with my van two years and over 20K miles ago.

You are valuable and worthy

I will just set this here for you: whether you know it or it or not, you are valuable, you are worthy. Even when you fail. Even when I fail.


“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is something valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.” — e.e cummings (via psych-quotes)


There is more to Rosebud than you think

Rosebud Cover #55

Rosebud Magazine’s Fall 2013 Cover, Issue #55

I was honored this past fall to be selected for the Artist Profile in issue #55 of the nationally recognized literary magazine Rosebud.

The photo of me holding the magazine was taken at the 2013 Holiday Art Fair hosted by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. In the photo is Rod Clark, publisher at Rosebud, and his wife.

Rosebud used images of my paintings throughout the magazine as touchstones to different stories and wrote a wonderful profile about my work. If you would like to see more or to purchase a copy of Issue #55 visit their website at Rosebud.

MMoCA Rosebud

Rod Clark, publisher at Rosebud, The Vintage Painter, and Mr. Clark’s wife.

Wisconsin residents are the country’s most extroverted. Really?

MichiganAug12 020

One of my bohemian friends in Levering, MI.


Traveling Germany by rail, 1989.

So I travel. A lot.

I’m blessed to be able to live a bit of the bohemian life style so I participate in art shows all over the country. Some of the events are high-end museum shows while others are rocking music festivals or community events. As such, I meet an enormous cross section of Americans.

It is always interesting what sells from one show to the next. I may go to 10 shows and no one looks at a particular original or print and then in one show sell a half dozen in a weekend.

You just never know.

What is more fascinating to us is how people react when you say “hello.” At some shows a “hello” will run people out of the booth – they don’t want to talk to anyone. In other regions, if you give them space they think you are ignoring them.

CMK & Michael 19

My bohemian friend, Michael. Also, in Michigan. That is weird.

And don’t even get me started on how different parts of the country perceive the art of negotiation. We won’t get into that here.

Which is why I find this article so interesting. It tries to quantify and qualify the “mood” of a state.

I thought you might find it interesting. Take the quiz and see if your mood matches your state. Check out how your state stacks up against the rest of the country by clicking here.

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