Redefining What It Means To Be An Artist

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Anonymous

I love this quote. It doesn’t mean you have to be a “starving artist” at any point in the journey. But it does mean you probably will have different priorities with your “free” time than most when you first start making your goals into reality. And it may mean that you do both for a while – a job and your own thing. Or if you are lucky, maybe you find a job in the art field, and do great there as well.

The awesome thing about being an artist, is that there are so many ways to succeed at it. I know people who spend all day in Hollywood, drawing, painting or creating. And I know people in the corporate retail space, designing and creating every day there too. I also know fine-art artists who do the festival and gallery scenes and may or may not have a job somewhere else. None of those options is wrong – that’s the beauty of it.

No one is saying quit your day job today. Unless you can, and/or you feel so inclined. I have a friend who instead of quitting his day job, started freelancing on the side. And then after a while he also started his own website. Wow – I mean this guy is killing it in two additional markets, while still keeping his day job. And so after 2 years of his website being kicked off, he’s making good money. Enough that if his day job said good bye, he’s be ok.

But what this meant was while everyone else was out drinking at the bar on a Saturday night, he was home working on projects, working with this web developers and creating an online outlet for his work. And since his day job normally didn’t require more than 40 hours a week, he was able to work a bit a couple nights a week and still enjoy life. Did he maybe turn down a more “prestigious” corporate job, that would have required more hours in order to fulfill his long-term goals? Yes. And that’s OK. I don’t know anyone who knows him who would think he lacks ambition or is lazy.

I remember when I was working “part time” as a consultant at a big firm. This meant by the way that I would still work up to 50 hours a week at least one week a month. (Crazy I know). I was accused by management of not having ambition because I didn’t want to be a Partner in a Big 4 consulting firm. But anyone who knew me or worked with me knew differently. They knew I gave my all at the client. And then I went home and worked long hours on my art. When I got laid off, I began living somewhat off savings, in order to work 100% on my art. Because I had an all-or-nothing attitude at that point.

Is either of these routes for everyone? No. You can sell your art and not worry about making it your sole income and still be considered a working artist. But, if you are thinking about making art your full-time gig – just know a little bit of sacrifice may be needed in the short term – but rewards will follow in the long term.

That friend I told you about? He still works his day job. But then goes on amazing globe trotting adventures a couple times a year. All because he was willing to think smarter, and work weekends and some nights on his dream. And he’s one of the most creatively fulfilled artists I know.

As for me, I’m currently working 1/2 of the year as a consultant, and the rest of the time I spend on my art.

So choose your own path, blaze your own trail, and start living the life you were meant to.


Artist Organized

6 Responses to “Redefining What It Means To Be An Artist”

  1. RobRoy August 4, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Thanks for this post. It is so true being an artist is something completely different than what the rest of the world has. I have known I was going to be making art objects since I was 16 and it is not a job for me it is a life. I treat it like a job on some levels. I go to the studio and make things, I update my site, court galleries, chase down potetial buyers and at all times I am completely aware of the core truth of being and artist. I must make art I must create things that speak to people and I must continue to do this no matter what happens. Keep making everyone.

    • Artist Organized
      admin August 7, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      Thank you Rob. Beautifully stated. : )

  2. Kelly August 7, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    It’s encouraging to hear how some people are doing it; Living with art, rather than “starving” because of it. 🙂

    • Artist Organized
      admin August 7, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      Thank you Kelly!

  3. Nephylim (@SevenPointStar) September 3, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    What does it mean to be an artist. That’s an interesting question. Begs the question, what is an artist? Is it someone who paints, or does it have a wider context? Is a photographer and artist? A writer?

    I am primarily a writer, in that I’m good enough that I think I might one day be able to make a living at it. My art simply isn’t good enough to provide me with an income and I’m neither prolific enough, nor skillful enough to make it profitable.

    On the other hand my art enriches my life to such a degree that there would be a huge hole in it if someone took away my sketchbooks, canvases, paints, charcoals and chalks.

    To earn a living I am a lawyer
    To live I write
    To enrich my life I paint/sketch/chalk

    In everything I create and so i consider myself to be an artist

    • Artist Organized
      admin September 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      I love that idea. If you have a need to create, and do create – you are an artist! 🙂