Living As an Artist with Hearing Loss

Living As an Artist with Hearing Loss

How having two cochlear implants affects my art business. 

Working alone in my studio 6 days a week, my hearing loss really doesn’t affect me at all! However, on the last Friday of the month, my studio is open to the public. My studio is in a historic 8 story building with about 10 totally unique studios per floor. On the Final Friday of the month, we open our doors to 600-800 people. I work hard all month creating art and setting up my studio for those four magical hours when possible clients come through my door. That’s when my hearing becomes a problem. Dancing around people, unsure if they are commenting on my work, asking about my process or confirming a price. Are they talking to each other…are they talking to my work? Being an artist, I want to understand and know how my work affects others. However, for me, it is a guessing game. My cochlear implants definitely help me hear but not as clearly as others. While I can see (and even hear!) colors on canvas vividly, I must read lips to converse with human beings. 

I love talking about my work and my process. I’ve been featured on podcasts. I interview people on social media. But those things I can do with the bluetooth capability of my implants and the support of my Iphone or Ipad. No one has to know. But in person, the gig is up. I get so tired of saying, “Excuse me, can you repeat that?, What? I didn’t hear you”. Is shaking my head the right answer?? If I nod in response, will they quit talking???  You’re wearing a mask? Forget it! 

My secret; As much as I want customers to come into my studio, sometimes I really want them to leave. I fear they will see my vulnerability or worse become irritated with me instead of in love with my art.

I live a life that is simultaneously frustrating and joyful with an ability to perfectly express myself on canvas while struggling to communicate in real life. 

This is my dichotomy and what makes me (and life) interesting!

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