Art Lecturer Dana Hemenway on her 'Hustle': Four Jobs, 380-Mile Commute

Monday, March 12, 2018

KQED (SAN FRANCISCO) -- Her current teaching schedule would mess with anyone’s sense of parking placard awareness. She teaches two days a week at SF State, two days at both CSU East Bay and UC Santa Cruz. All in all, she drives around 380 miles a week between the three.

“As an artist, there’s no way you could ever get an investment loan for your business,” she says. “Restaurants are known for being wildly unsuccessful, but you can go to the bank with a business plan and ask for a loan. You can’t do that as an artist. You have to be your own bank as you’re starting out, investing in your future as an artist.”

When it comes to deciding whether or not to be in a group show, for example, she suggests weighing the financial burden (fabricating the work, possibly shipping it to and from the venue) against the potential benefits (showing with artists you respect, getting your artwork seen by people who might help you later). In this way, participating in an art exhibition, even without pay, can be an investment in your practice — and the future of your business. But you should always, always ask for more than you’re offered. “If you don’t ask for it, you’re not going to find out if that person’s willing to do it,” says Hemenway. “And people are so afraid to lose the opportunity that they won’t even ask.”