Broke-Ass of the Week

Broke-Ass of the Week: Artist Nicolette Toussaint

Updated: Aug 31, 2011 09:39
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Every week we feature a different person from the community shedding a little light on their life of brokeitude. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something about the human spirit – probably not.

Wanna be a Broke-Ass of the Week?  Holler at us: here and we’ll send you the questionnaire.

Our latest Broke-Ass of the Week claims she’s not so young anymore, but that just means we can count her as “vintage” (in the good way!) Either way, she’s definitely got some interesting stories to tell: she’s an honorary member of the Ashanti tribe of Ghana West Africa, she’s trained in avalanche rescue and she even once had a job that involved drawing underwater (what? where do we sign up?) She’s also a bonafide struggling artist, with a show at Artists Alley in SOMA.

So without further ado, here’s Nicolette:

Note: Nicolette not pictured

Name: Nicolette Toussaint

Age: Old enough to know better

Occupation: Painter, illustrator and green building blogger

What neighborhood do you live in?: Baja Noe Valley on the cusp, Mission District rising

What are you listening to these days?: Putamayo world music

Best money saving tip: 1) Drop into Big Lots often enough, and you can find just about anything.

What do you refuse to spend money on?: 1) Designer clothes, especially the kind that have the label on the OUTSIDE. I worked in advertising for a few years, and I figure that if someone wants their label on my body, they have to pay me a space-rental fee. Not the other way around. 2) Cling wrap

Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: An apartment in Baja Noe Valley. Correction – a mortgage on said apartment.

How’d that feel?: Annoying. The mortgage has moved through three different mortgage companies in the same number of years, and now it’s underwater. Plus, I’m laid off. But that REALLY qualifies me as a First Class Broke-Ass!

Favorite cheap eat: All you can eat salad bars.

Favorite dive bar: I gave up diving years ago; I even sold my wetsuit.

Best deal you’ve ever gotten: Two come to mind. 1) a friend gave me a full conference pass to West Coast Green last year. 2) Broke-Ass Stuart picked me as the recipient of tickets to see ODC versus Cal; I love ODC but can’t afford to go anymore.

Favorite free thing to do: Sketch in a park or the Arboretum

If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy? A three-month trip to Italy.

Despite not having money, do you still love your life?
Oddly enough, I like it better than when I HAD money way back two years ago. By any reasonable measure, I should be depressed. But I’m actually enjoying my life. I have solved several financial crises and am feeling pretty upbeat. I can’t see at all what’s going to happen next spring, so I decided, what the hell, I will do what I really want to do, and paint. At least for as long as I can. And that’s what I’m doing.

When I dragged my watercolors down to the Artist’s Alley Gallery, the owner said, “I usually tell new artists that they shouldn’t quit their day job. But I think you SHOULD quit your day job.”

“No problem,” I say. “Seems that my day job quit me.”

So far, it seems that that may turn out to be a good thing.

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Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew is an East Coast transplant from Virginia hamming it up in San Francisco without any intention of leaving. Having worked every typical job from Bike Shop Employee to Bartender to Ad Agency Hotshot, to Dotcom Layoff he now busts his ass covering the "weird things to do" beat for gracious local audiences at and rallies the Western Addy/Lower Haight/Panhandle neighborhoods into action at His work was published in a real, paper magazine one time. One day he might even figure out how to make money from it.