Before multi-colored Marilyns, Studio 54, and tomato soup, Andy Warhol eked out a living drawing shoes in small New York City apartments.
In 1949, Warhol moved to New York, and started working as a commercial artist. He drew shoes, gloves, and other apparel for magazine ads in Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and Glamour. He lived with multiple roommates and in basement apartments. He was out all day looking for work and up all night drawing. He got paid per shoe he drew and would count them up to see what his paycheck would be. I think any artist who has lived in New York can relate . . .
He said, "The things I remember most about those days, aside from the long hours I spent working, are the cockroaches. Every apartment I ever stayed in was loaded with them. I'll never forget the humiliation of bringing my portfolio up to Carmel Snow's office at Harper's Bazaar and unzipping it only to have a roach crawl out and down the leg of the table. She felt so sorry for me that she gave me a job."
I like to take out my little Andy Warhol Fashion book on nights when I'm up late working on freelance. It's comforting to know that so many creatives have come to New York to work, live, and suffer, in hopes of getting their work seen, and that it's possible to go from roaches and shoe drawings to the MoMA.
And I really love how Andy drew shoes . . .