It’s interesting to think that you can start anew with each passing moment. You can let go of the past, let go of whatever is holding you back, and start again, doing whatever it is you want to do. – James W. Allmon
If you are an artist you know very well what it means to stay afloat in a fast changing world, especially if you have no desire to sell your soul.
For many artists money and creativity do not work well together. This is probably the reason why so many talented artists died in poverty. It is an irony that their works accelerate in value over their dead bodies, or gently stated, posthumously.
In this article I wish to introduce an artist who, like many other artists out there, is trying to make a living in the world of material delights without losing his soul or mind – a New Mexico based Mr. James W. Allmon.
Avid reader, cinema lover, and collector, James is currently making a living as a graphic designer with big interest in science fiction, fantasy, humor and comic art. A bit more than a year ago has created his own Jimmo brand and specializes in designing graphic print t-shirts, home decor, and mugs. His designs can be purchased in his own Jimmo Designs web based store, on Amazon and on Redbubble. The products that carry his signature are made to order and he receives royalties every time a product sells.
Competition is enormous and it is not easy to make a living selling apparel. To pay his rent he has to sell at least 120 t-shirts on Amazon every month. To make a meager living another 180-200 must be sold monthly. This is not happening despite the fact that his designs are very popular with his friends, for instance. One can only buy as many shirts or mugs, it seems, and there are cheaper gifts in retail stores.
Many people, used to buying a basement bargain quality imported from China or Vietnam, are not willing to pay $20 or $30 for an artist designed garment that will eventually end up in trash anyway. And of course, as with everything in life, tastes and preferences vary. Moreover, in an economy where everybody struggles, $20 for a kid’s t-shirt is $20 too much. Unless one creates something that everybody loves and wants, like the Marvel’s Superheroes, one is meant to struggle in this highly competitive market.
For a reason unknown to me, many people do not even consider the fact that artists have to make a living, and I don’t know whether it is the ignorance or carelessness that makes them completely indifferent to that fact.
A year ago Jimmo was approached on Facebook by a very successful woman. She was about to publish a new motivational book and needed a cover for it. Not thinking about the money, Jimmo, to his detriment, did not negotiate the price for his work, but jumped immediately into designing. He worked for many hours and created an attractive book cover for her. She liked it, received the artwork so that the book could be published on the spot, and said, Hey, thanks! without even offering a penny for it or asking if there was a fee for his work. Jimmo needed money very badly, but was simply unable to ask for it. This experience must have been more than disappointing when he later saw that the woman was making big money with that book and enjoyed her successful life in Bali. But Jimmo, in his wisdom, has the strength to quickly move on, hoping that the next person will have the decency to acknowledge his work and offer a payment.
There are many more examples like that. People really love Jimmo’s work, but do not really want to pay for it. Some even believe that he should donate his time and work for others, without thinking that maybe he sometimes is hungry because he has a dog and three cats to feed and would rather give them the food than eat himself. No one has offered a basket of goodies in exchange for his art.
If you detect a note of bitterness here, the bitterness is mine, not his. Despite many difficulties, Jimmo is trying to stay optimistic. He has big dreams and visions for a better future, his and the world’s. Many of Jimmo’s designs are playful or even funny, and reflect his optimism, but many also show serious consideration for the environment and social causes. Although he has no control over the production process, he makes sure that his products are not made in sweatshops and the order fulfillment centers strive to use as environmentally sane packaging as possible.
Unless you have seen an artist at work and have seen him working on his designs, you cannot fully appreciate all the work that goes into creation of a product. I am one of the lucky few who were allowed to watch and believe that no artist in this business receives enough money for the work he puts into a design. Hence my vivid support for Jimmo and other artists working hard to make a living.
If you have a free time on your hands, take a moment to explore his designs. There is something for everyone there. Bookmark the websites for later and share the information with someone who might want to purchase something and give support to Jimmo, his three cats and his super cool dog.
By Dominique Allmon
Please visit Jimmo Designs
Images: Jimmo with his dog Sonora & Kira and the Mouse. James W. Allmon@2017