There is a fairly widely given piece of advice out there that says, “Do what you love and the money will show up.” Here’s the thing: it’s not really true. I mean sure, some of us get to manage the Yankees or be the taster at a winery, but, in general, the economy does not grow because we are all doing what we love, sometimes, we just have to do what we can. There is a reason they call it “work.” Otherwise, I’d get paid to garden and play bad guitar, my daughter would earn a living watching bridal shows, and beer drinking would, among most of the male population of Florida, be a noble and honorable profession. While some of us are talented or lucky enough to get paid for our passions, many of the rest of us are still creating without any hope of income from our work.
No really it is; I know plenty of professional artists who struggle with the money stuff too. The art world’s barriers have been decimated, anyone can publish a book, own an online art gallery, or create Youtube movies. And, to some extent, the market is flooded with supply. If you love to write, or paint, or make viral videos, the leap to getting someone to pay you for your work is something different entirely. Visit any art school and you will quickly understand that professional artists incorporate business principals into their work from the start, getting paid for your work is more complicated than simply filling a garage with your paintings. A lot more. And; if you honestly think you can make a living off your art, money is, most definitely, an issue. The Eagles get $1,200 for floor seats, most of us don’t. Sorry about that.
But let’s talk about this for a minute: doing ANYTHING professionally is not the same as just doing something you love. There are budgets, time pressures, and committees to please, there are almost no professional artists who don’t have to please a boss or a sponsor. I often tell professional artists to save a little piece of their soul for work that they do just for themselves, on the weekends, just like the rest of us. Think about that for a minute: even professional artists dabble in art on the weekend and evenings, even though they have a job in art.
Take a breath and let that sink in for a minute, because it is important. Let’s recap: money is an issue, not all of us can get paid for our art, and vey few professional artists get to create to their own agenda, tastes, schedule, and budget. But, you might have the means to unleashing your passion in your life already. Let’s call it your: DAY JOB. Your job might suck, but, if you re-frame it, and view your daily job that sucks as the vehicle that gives you the means to pay for your magnificent obsession in creativity, you will find just a little more peace. And, if you really focus on the money stuff, and work towards having the means to become financially independent (we call this retirement), you might just have the means to create full time on your own terms.
Money, from the dawn of time, is part of the art equation. In my experience, I’ve combined a financial planning firm with my love of creativity to help artistic types, professional and otherwise. While I help them with the money stuff, so they can create more, I earn a living that helps me do my own creative stuff. For as overwhelming as all the talk about one percenters and economic unfairness can be the beauty of American capitalism is that we actually do have the freedom to seek our own happiness. Saving money and funding a retirement is not easy, but it is achievable. I know because thirty years in my industry has exposed me to plenty of people who have done just that.
One doesn’t have to look far to find a formerly employed journalist who is now bitterly blogging, a talented artist who used to work for the Mouse, or a musician who works as a waiter. Having a creative passion is something you can’t help, it is either in you or it is not. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that comes along with it that money will come with that passion. Bummer.
I hop you still choose to create and that you understand that the money stuff is part of the process, you can embrace that or run from it, but its always going to be true.
I hope you make soemthing cool today.