How to Be an Artist and Love What You Do and Make Money Doing It

by Eric Orosco

How to Be an Artist

            Acknowledge that you want to be creative at an early age, preferably before the discovery of sex but after you’ve begun to sense that a part of you is missing on the inside. How does one discover that a part of themselves is missing? Put your left hand against your ribs and press until you feel a slight discomfort. Release. Feel the lingering pressure, the phantom pushing, then move to your chest and press using your left hand again. This is an awkward thing to do and you will not feel any sort of lingering pressure after the hand has stopped pushing because you were unable to push hard enough. Feel inadequate for six seconds and be sure to count it out using the Spanish you picked up from the Mexican girl in your elementary school classroom. Struggle over the Spanish word for six. Say it correctly. Good.

            Create with the intention of getting your work displayed on the front of refrigerators. Macaroni artwork can be a bit heavy so begin with simple sketches and save the macaroni for anniversaries, Christmases, and Valentine’s Days. Understand that macaroni art is timeless if you execute it properly. For now sketch using those colored pencils found at the bottom of your backpack, if there is nothing but pencil shavings and loose change at the bottom then it is reasonable to use a number two pencil to outline and then scavenge for berries to smear over the page. Understand that a pop of color is necessary to get your art on the fridge. Feel proud to be sandwiched between the takeout menu for Thai Village and a postcard written by someone with illegible, cursive handwriting.

            Discover masturbation.




            Discovering masturbation is not fulfillment. Think about all the time you have accumulated masturbating. Gather the minutes in handfuls and place them before you on the kitchen table. Move them around and glue them together with Elmer’s glue. This is a masturbation collage. Reveal it to your friends during sleepovers and movie nights. Ponder the differences between art and porn and decide for yourself if they are mutually exclusive.

            Understand that people are having sex all around you. When walking home from school glance at the houses with cars parked outside and imagine that people are having sex. Keep your eyes on these houses for a period of six seconds and then look away. Did you count in Spanish? Did you stumble over the word for six? No? Good. Add more minutes to your masturbation collage. You have yet to bring minimalism to your art so the idea of “less is more” has not occurred to you yet.

            To continue providing directions for this period of your art career would be a waste of HP 61 Black Original Ink. Between working on your collage and discovering intimacies with other people the amount of art actually produced during this period is minute and scattered. Walk by the fridge and notice the influx of take out menus, postcards, and magnets. Remove them one by one and let them fall from your hands and onto the scuffed linoleum. Find the sketch you made with a number two pencil and red berry smear. Hold it against your chest and breath in. Feel something. Understand that one day you will not call this fridge your gallery, that you will not wake up under this roof and move about its walls as an occupant, that you will one day be a visitor. Tears are essential to giving white paper that aged and mishandled look so take this moment to do so with your sketch. Know that this is not a watermark.

            How does one discover that a part of themselves is missing? Grow old. Let the skin cells shed from your body and collect as dust on top of your discarded hobbies. Notice the wine stain on your sketch book and the way your journals end after page ten. Rearrange the living room of your new home. Do this on your own. Remember that there is a proper way to lift and push but don’t take the time to correct your posture. Stop when the biggest items of furniture are in the center of the room. Look at the couch you’ve pushed toward the eastern wall and all of the books stacked in piles over its cushions. Lie down next to them, pulling their spines into the soft flesh of your stomach. Hear several of them fall over the edge and onto the carpeted floor with a muffled thud.  Fall asleep with them and lie to yourself that if you had more time you would read them all.

            Ask your managers if they are happy. Watch them tilt their heads like concerned puppies and ask “why?” Hear one of your coworker’s call out that it is just a question you ask. Listen to them tell you an answer. Hope that what you hear is some fraction of the truth and that this isn’t just human resources talking. Know that it might be. Look into the eyes of your managers and make assumptions. See them going home after an eight hour shift and standing in the middle of their bedroom, their work clothes still on and their makeup slightly dewy from the accumulation of sebum and sweat. See them let out a breath of air and wrap their arms around themselves. See them press their left hand against their ribs. See them awkwardly press their left hand against their chest. See them feel inadequate when looking at the accumulation of life around them. Understand that your are projecting. Understand that you just want to know that someone out there is feeling the way you do. Count with them in Spanish. Stumble over seis. 

            Try to write. Start from the beginning. Start from the moment you first felt the desire to take your imagination and transcribe it into the physical realm. Remember the way your hands manipulated the pencils and colors and the pride you felt with completion. Remember the fridge and the warm embrace of your parent. Miss the way those arms felt around you and the way you felt okay being vulnerable. Wrap yourself in blankets from thrift stores and turn the oscillating fan on high. Let the breeze blow against you while you try to spark inspiration. Understand that there are no set instructions. Look at yourself from a different point of view. Experiment with second person. Stumble over an ending. Press your left hand against your ribs. Press your left hand against your chest. Feel inadequate for a period of six seconds and be sure to count it out using the Spanish you picked up from the accumulation of your life. Say seis. Ok.


Eric Orosco

Eric Orosco is a writer living in Stockton, California. His fiction has appeared in American River Review and on numerous occasions been displayed on the front of his mother's refrigerator. He is former editor-in-chief of American River Review an d holds a handful of credits from the University of Idaho where he initiated the undergraduate literary magazine Vandalism.