Richard – Artist/Homeless

How long have you been homeless for?
About 4 weeks.
Before that?
I was renting and trying to get work. It just snowballed to a point where I had not choice but to live on the streets.
Is this the first time you’ve been homeless?
Yes it is.
You’re a very talented artist, did you ever try to work in that industry?
Yeah I tried to, that’s what got me in this position today. It’s a hard game the art game, whatever you try to do. I wasn’t into fine arts like this, I was more into illustration work. It’s all freelance and there’s thousands and thousands of us going for the same little jobs each time. I was stupid and didn’t save enough money and lost a lot.
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
To start the ball rolling. It took me three weeks just t get to this stage of a couple of bits of paper and some materials. Hopefully the next stage is to finish these and get some more materials to sell them and so on. Then hopefully I can get off the street doing that.
It must be tough.
When you hit rick bottom the hardest thing is little minor things will set you back. Like the weather, a small wind can blow away your work and that’s hours of work just gone. If I lost a piece of paper now, it would be back to just begging to get that piece of paper to start again.
Do you find that people are more willing to give you money when you are drawing?
Yeah absolutely. For sure, because there are a lot of people on the street and they are all asking for help, for a handout. I hate doing it. At least half the people doing it hate it. The other half are into drugs or into drinking and they don’t care. The people who see us don’t know where the money goes. At least with something like this the people who give me money know that their money is probably going to buy another piece of paper or a pencil.
How much do you hope to sell the piece for at the end?
I can’t just sell them. That’s not how it works with the law. It’s all donations. I don’t have a license to sell them. It will be up to people how much they want to pay. I will let them know that the paper was $3.80… So as long as it’s over $3.80 I will be happy.
This must be a difference experience?
It’s how you look at it. I don’t look at it like I am “homeless” homeless. At least I can do this. I wish I could play guitar, because If I could play guitar I’d make a lot more! Haha. But as I said, this is still a starting point, some others have nothing like this. In my head I know, well I tell myself at least “I won’t be homeless for long.” I will do some art, I’ll get some money. Hopefully I can get a job doing whatever. I WILL get back onto my feet.
How do you keep your head up, what keeps you happy right now?
You just wake up each morning don’t you. Whether you’re homeless or not life is identical. You have to eat, you have to go to the bathroom. It hasn’t changed what I am interested in at all. I am a creative person. I’m into movies, I’m into artwork. I look at other peoples artwork still. Life is the same. You get up each morning…
Do you have family?
Yeah, my parents are in Sydney where I grew up. I haven’t told them I am on the street yet. They know that I am struggling. I don’t want to bother them, they are retired and I don’t want to worry them. They played their part in my life and did a great job. They have their set amount of money for their retirement and I don’t want to take away from that.
Are you getting accommodation at night?
I have tried the hostels, but you are going to get stabbed in one of those places if you’re like me. They see me and see that I’ve never been in any jail and that I’m a light weight. I sleep just around the corner here near the police station. I feel relatively safe there.
Do you have blankets?
I have blankets and stuff… but that’s the other thing that will set you back you see. You can say Ok, I can live on a couple of quid a day for food, and some people give me food instead of money which is lovely, then say paper is $4, then I’ll have to print out a picture from an internet cafe, there’s $2. That’s not much money. But, then you have to get toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, you put up with so much stuff just to save the little bits of money. You have a weekly shower, you sponge yourself daily and try to keep yourself clean. You try to save money but you have to take into account everything that you have to buy and that can really set you back.
The trick will be just to plan ahead and hopefully I can get myself to a place where I am able to get my own place again and can get off the street.

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