A Sign of Support: Johnathon DeSoto
“Being a full time craft artist is something that many of us dream about, but it does have its own risks built into it: Lack of financial stability and traditional safety nets are one of them.
I used to be a Registered Nurse, but gave it up to be a full time artist. This is something that is very important to me. I wanted to feel good about what I am doing and create a working system that is ethical and environmentally responsible as possible. Being an artist is a political statement in itself; no one decides to do it to get rich. I feel very fortunate that through luck and hard work to be able making a living making art with reclaimed materials.
In January 2017, I was creating signs for the Women’s March and had a freak accident that resulted in me cutting my three tendons in my dominate hand. Beyond the fear of not knowing how much mobility I will regain, it really put my art career at risk. I have commissions to build, bills to pay and it happened around a time when I should be planning and paying for summer events. This injury that has a “back to work time” of 10-12 weeks could have the potential of putting my whole year at risk. If you work for yourself, you can’t apply for workman’s comp. As an artist, I don’t currently make enough to afford insurance that would pay my wages while I recovered. Every dollar I make goes right back into creating a viable art career. I had some money saved from the holidays, that I had planned on using to upgrade my equipment. That was really only enough to last for 4-6 weeks without me making any more income. I was definitely scrambling. I talked among other artist friends and one friend told me about CERF+. It seemed like the perfect thing! The people at CERF+were incredibly helpful. I was dealing with a lot of mental haziness. I had a ton of pain from hand surgery and the amount of pain killers I needed to make it through the day really made it hard to focus. The folks at CERF+ were very patient and helped me through the application process.
I am so grateful for Les Snow’s help, specifically. I received a grant that was truly a life saver. It came just in the nick of time, I had basically exhausted all of my savings. I was also awarded a special booth fee wavier! This has given me a little breathing room and peace of mind. I can now focus more on rehabilitating my hand. I still have another 6 weeks left of rehab before my hand is 100%.