Student artists draw way to fame and fortune


Seniors Aspen Leavitt and Daniel Gacha are two student artists that make commission off their artwork. Photo by: Miles Bennett

Miles Bennett

At Ventura High School, there are many students who dedicate their lives to– and excel at– a specific craft. Two examples of this phenomenon are the drama students, who raise thousands of dollars a year with performances and the various sports teams, which pursue and achieve victory in almost every game.

Talent and skill are often showcased on a large team or group scale at VHS. But what about talent on the individual scale? Believe it or not, there are students who work on their own to create wonders and creations, and are even making a profit. Students following this line of business are known as “freelance artists.”

These freelance artists get commissioned by people or organizations to create original pieces for their use and enjoyment. Two of these artistic entrepreneurs found at VHS are seniors Daniel Gacha and Aspen Leavitt.

Leavitt plans to take on art-based career and does frequent commissions for friends, fans and random people on the internet. Gacha is different– he intends to follow another career avenue and normally does commissions for people he knows at school. Both are widely regarded as incredibly talented and successful artists amongst their friends and peers.Customer experiences can be a lovely time, Leavitt stated: “It’s taken me a lot to find out the right method a lot of people are very very considerate and they will contact me and they know that my time is valuable,” he explained. Although, the key phrase there is “can be lovely”  because their talent doesn’t exempt them from the struggles that dealing with customers involves.

“It feels almost like they don’t appreciate it. Not all of them obviously, but some,” said Gacha. “There are some people who are like… ‘Why should I pay you that much for a drawing?’ And it’s like I have to charge them for [my time and labor] since it’s like any other job.”

Seniors Aspen Leavitt and Daniel Gacha are two student artists that make commission off their artwork. Photo by: Miles Bennett

In fact, Gacha and Leavitt both expressed how people don’t appreciate how much time, money and even love goes into a job like being a freelancer. Sometimes stress can get a hold of even the strongest of freelancers.

Gacha stated, “It is really stressful, because like I said it’s more from people who go to school here, it’s almost more stressful seeing them in real life [and they say], ‘When’s it gonna be done, when’s it gonna be done?’”

Leavitt works mostly through the internet, so he has different types of struggles. Getting an important piece just right for someone can be stressful. “This guy wanted a memorial [for] his grandfather and they’re both marines,” explained Leavitt. “It’s supposed to be this super surreal and respectful piece and it’s really hard…[because] you [want to] do well because it means a lot to them”.

Although, with most stressful jobs comes a good payout. When Gacha and Leavitt were asked what the most rewarding part of being a freelance artist is, Gacha excitedly blurted out, “Money.” Leavitt tried to retort that there has to be another reason, but Gacha insisted that American legal tender is his only motivator.

Leavitt agreed that getting paid is great but on the other hand, “seeing what it’s like when someone loves your art” makes the whole experience pretty magical. He explained that knowing people feel the same way he feels when someone draws him something brings him the utmost happiness.

Whatever their motivations, there’s no denying that these two have delivered happiness to their customers unlike any other.

Gacha and Leavitt also had some advice to give to any new freelancers: just go for it, even if you think your art isn’t that good. Don’t under price yourself– ever. In the end, freelancers like Leavitt and Gacha are living proof that even a “starving artist” can make a living off of wit and skill.