How I went from a starving call center artist to a work-from-home coder

By AA Picks

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I graduated college in 2009, right in the aftermath of the 2008 housing crisis. Jobs didn’t exist, especially not for someone with zero experience holding a limp Fine Arts degree.

My life quickly stalled, but this is how I pulled myself out of a tailspin thanks, for the most part, to Python.

I had slid through my undergrad with just enough scholarships to keep me (mostly) out of debt. I had some college loan credit that helped me survive that first summer without a job.

My main medium is linoleum printing, so I threw myself into my art.

I thought I had been clever.

See, painters have a problem. Once they’re finished with a piece, they can only sell it once. Sure, they can pay to have prints made, but that’s extra expense and your final product – no matter how you spin it – is basically a cheap poster.

Linoleum printing is different. Basically, I get this fat pad of linoleum that has the texture and toughness of really hard clay. Then I carve out a piece of art using a set of special blades.

Once my design is complete, I take a roller and spread extremely sticky, thick ink all over the surface. Think pitch black molasses. Then I press a piece of paper to it, and walah! A work of art ready to dry and frame.

Mass production was my angle. Unlike painters, I could make as many prints in-house as I wanted and just keep selling them.

Only problem was… nobody was buying them.

My ratty apartment was soon cluttered with monochrome prints with my increasingly less-confident signature scrawled across the bottom.

I thought I had been clever.

Cash was running out, and fall was looming, so I went to apply for a job at a coffee shop.

Realizing that I was essentially becoming a walking cliche, I bailed on the barista application halfway through.


With few options and little understanding of the “real world” I decided to hide out in academia a bit longer. I got a master’s degree, but I still hadn’t learned my lesson.

Instead of getting something practical, I went with Visual Arts.

I ended up answering phones for an internet service provider.

It soon became clear that …read more

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