Hi everyone, my name is Ilia and I’m the typical “starving artist”. Okay, maybe not quite starving, but definitely struggling. I’m in school for Visual Merchandising Arts, which has been an amazing opportunity. I’ve had my share of part time jobs, but between having terrible anxiety and being harassed by coworkers, I decided to take a step back and try to make money a different way. I decided to take a risk and start selling my art. It has always been my dream to turn my passion for art into a side hustle or a full time job. It’s daunting to take a risk like that, but I figured what better time to try to make money from home doing something I love. Working from home was especially appealing due to the pandemic. My significant other’s family are high risk, so I constantly need to be taking as many precautions as possible. This was another reason I figured fast food and retail work might not be ideal at the time. So I decided to find a platform that could help to make this idea come to life. Etsy seemed like a great choice, as it is very user friendly for both the seller and the buyer. On Etsy I began to sell downloadable wall art, and also accept commissions to paint custom colorful pet portraits. I was inspired to begin these commissions while working on a painting for school. We had to paint a colorful lion, and I loved the process. I found it to be extremely gratifying and relaxing. Then it dawned on me. What’s one thing that people love wholeheartedly and would probably want painted? Their pets. So many people see their pets as their children, and would love to display them on their wall. I was so excited to see where this opportunity would lead. However, it isn’t going as well as I had hoped. The downloadable wall art isn’t very popular, and people found my commission prices to be unreasonable. Because I’m still young, people dismiss my art and don’t think it has much value. However, they don’t consider all the materials used, and all the time and effort that go into my paintings. It has been quite discouraging to not receive the support that I hoped for. This setback does not mean I will give up, I intend to keep working hard and taking risks to become more successful and do what I love. But it does mean that for the time being, I am struggling financially. I would be thankful for any support that you can provide. If I become a successful artist… okay let me be more optimistic. When I become a successful artist, I will make sure to give back by supporting other struggling artists who are in the position that I am in now. Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my situation. And thank you so much for any help, it means more than you could ever know.