Looks like you figured out that you're not likely to find a free couch here, but you might be able to share expenses with someone in distress.
Another option is to find a part time job in a marina that would get you some experience; I'll bet you could do some pretty awesome graphics work as most of the work from your SU studio is simply amazing*. Then, you could learn more as you go.
However, you might do better by purchasing an old boat and learning by trial if you can find a cheap place to anchor. Unfortunately, your work is typically centered around NYC and LA and neither of these places are anywhere near cheap. I did knew a guy in Austin that used this approach. IRC, he helped out at the marina in exchange for reduced rent. He also acted as the unofficial night watchman. OTOH, maybe that's more of an asset in the NYC area...
* When I was at SU Computer Graphics involved soldering irons.