23 May Artist and Entrepreneur
“The question is not what do I love? The question is what do I love enough that I don’t mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it?” -Elizabeth Gilbert
Making art never felt like a choice to me. Whether my material was playdough or a pencil I learned early on that I could escape easily into a creative zone that felt like a magical home within me. As I grew up I surrounded myself with artists, goldsmiths, musicians and dancers. I worked in art galleries and eventually owned my own for a few years.
While the internal call to make art felt like it chose me, the choice to try and make a living by selling my art was mine. I think at one time I believed it would be an easier ride then it has been. Ha-ha…! I thought my art career would be something that simply continued on some unending upward path. Instead it has been so full of humbling moments, deep breaths, life lessons, opportunities to practice my communication skills, learning to embrace the word “no” and more than one rock bottom, face plant into a very big pile of pooh.
We all have a different definition of success and various ways of attaining that. That definition is fluid and changes as we stumble along the path of living and learning. The trick is to get it early on that we all have our own unique way of reaching that success. Don’t waste a bunch of time trying to do things the way others do. What worked for another artist’s career doesn’t mean it will work for yours and that is ok. It’s not better or worse…just different.
I think one of the biggest challenges is that we have to wear so many hats in the business of art..and some of those hats really don’t fit our heads at all! For me it’s a challenge to find studio time to actually make the art while juggling all the other aspects of the business. It’s more than I can manage at times with so much time spent being the sales person for the work as well.
What I know is that I find no joy in painting subject matter that doesn’t speak to my soul. I’m not here to be a production artist. My work is a slow process and deeply connected to the Divine. It calls to certain people and when it does it touches and opens their heart. So, to take something I love to create, like mermaid designs and positive messages, and turn them into a fun new business that can generate a second income stream is the way I am choosing to try and create more financial freedom. This way I can continue to paint what I am called to paint whether it finds a home in a day, a week or 5 years. There is so much more creative freedom for me when I am not trying to live off my art sales.
My 20 years of being a full time artist have brought me quite a few “shit sandwiches”. I’ve learned important lessons from each one. We are not owed anything because we have a gift or a talent or do something well. It is a choice to dedicate our life to creative pursuits. So dedicate it with gratitude and joy. Outside of the box there are ways to make a life of making art.