I spent the last 10 years of my life working behind a desk; using a punch card or an ID number to clock myself in and out, answering to a superior, being micro-managed and almost always never getting credit for my ideas. This always felt like prison – only I was fortunate enough to not have to wear a hideous orange onezie.

Sure I was happy when I was off the clock, hanging with friends and forgetting about the last eight hours of work and sure, I had money. That of which, I spent on ‘the essentials’ – you know, the “important” things: my car, the gasoline that went into my car, my designer clothing, executive lunch breaks and dinners at practically every restaurant in town. These were my primary living expenses, which were quite obviously, used to fuel my 9-5 lifestyle. I didn’t realize then, but I was drowning the sadness in those things: overcompensating, trying to be happy. The best part is, I didn’t even know that I wasn’t.

It’s ironic though isn’t it?

Jobs, and how we despise (I’m weird about using the word hate) them so much… how we do whatever it takes to uphold them.

Personally, I know I only followed the cycle because I misunderstood it and most certainly misunderstood myself. I swore the desk was perfection, I believed I had made it. In fact, my life was “picture perfect” and “safe”. So all this time, after all those years of educating myself, I found myself behind a stupid desk reading an email about email etiquette, responding in fear and nervous about my vacation request getting denied.

Needless to say, I finally woke up – reached for the remote and changed the channel straight into my own reality and finally came clean to myself about myself: declaring I am an artist, one of which has been utterly and most depressingly so unfulfilled.

The next few seasons of my life were spent eliminating the things that were no longer of value to me.

It was surprisingly easy.

I stripped down to the bare minimum; quit my job, used my last check to purchase a skateboard (after realizing I couldn’t afford my car anymore), I rented a cheap apartment in the ghetto (Miami’s Overtown to be exact, in case anyone was wondering what my definition of ghetto was – because it was closest to an art studio where I was allowed to paint) and I traded in my purse for a backpack (which was only suited to hold my sketchbooks and a few drawing pencils) at last, redeeming my happiness.

With daily visits to the local coffee shop and art supply store, I had such a sense of purpose. It was simple and quite marvelous: DRINK COFFEE , MAKE ART, REPEAT.

Holding an incredibly tight grip to my sketchbook, I made myself dinners of ramen noodles and scrambled eggs and painted my own nails after completing a painting (I miss Tammy, my manicurist)

I sometimes revert back to the want for more material, less soul, only because its all I’ve been taught to want, and when the feeling arises I feel bad for myself, like I’m the victim of some petty crime. It never takes more than a few minutes before I remind myself that as a full-time, self-employed artist, I am, in fact, the happiest I’ve ever been.

I can assure you, I don’t plan on ‘starving’ forever, and part of the goal here is to eliminate the ‘starving artist’ stereotype. There is too much fear instilled in us by society with this title, and I don’t agree there should be. Art, after all, has been the most consistent catalyst for change in every generation and so with that being said…having the ability or will to create is truly an honor.

About The Author

Jenny Perez is a culturally influenced, visual pop artist from Miami, Florida. She began her career as a visual artist, using canvases and acrylic paint as her primary medium. Over the past seven years, Perez has adopted several other mediums to accompany her canvas works. Her art has often been utilized to set a powerful ambiance in venues, stores and even street art - including murals and festivals.

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