I believe that all artists go through the same troubles of reconciling their creative passions and making a profession out of it. When an excited child proclaims they want to be an painter or dancer when they grow up, I’m sure the parents nod accordingly but deep down inside they still think it’s an impractical choice. Or perhaps the harder path to take in terms of financial security. It seems somewhere along the line we lost the definition that artists are professional artisans…we have skills!
Artists have technical skills like any other job that enable them to do what they do. In the past, these people were hired for their skills – many commissions and purchases depending on their craft. Are these jobs no longer about skill? Are there too many artists these days? Is it because new inventions and technology pushed artists into new realms and suddenly the utility of the skill was lost? Certainly art usually carries a bit more meaning and something intangible with it – it’s not just a product.
I’ve grown up with many discriminating thoughts about being an artist. Growing up in a tight household we were worried about survival and that meant getting a good job that pays well when you grow up. When it came to choosing a career, I had to look at the scene and see what made sense. Although I still ending up studying many different subjects in college because I couldn’t decide…I already had a job doing graphic and web design at the university. Like many others with a creative passion, I veered towards graphic design because it seemed creative, yet a respectable profession at the same time – a happy medium, right?
Of course, over time I realized that graphic design is not that creatively satisfying. Everything is on assignment and you don’t have ultimate control over your design, especially in the corporate and advertising world. At least from the start, you are just a pawn in the big machine creating the look and feel of someone else’s ideas. I personally ended up in project management, even farther away from being actively creative. I realized I had a natural skill for being creative in problem solving, organizing and planning instead. I can be a big cheerleader to help motivate folks and essentially I’m a big idea person. I still think anything is possible and dive into things wholeheartedly. Turns out that’s a scary thing, because idea people are essentially entrepreneurs. We are an odd breed and we don’t fit well into systems. We question the Man and probably seem a bit crazy to many folks.
Ultimately though…what really brought me down about working in the corporate system was because people didn’t really care. I’m sure some people care – somewhere – but I realized I cared a lot about my work than my co-workers. I have passion for all that I do and when it’s not reciprocated in the workplace it’s such a downer. It’s frustrating and makes the whole situation so negative. It’s not that I wanted acknowledgment from the higher ups, more money or even a big title…those things are nice…but I was really craving the heart and soul. When people don’t care as much as you do for a project – because it’s just a job or they are busy with family or whatever excuse – it devalues the whole thing for me. I tried being like those people, apathetic…but I just couldn’t do it.
Thankfully, I came to a point in my life when I could stop the madness, so-to-speak. I quit my job, moved to Italy and married my love. Now I can explore the things I really enjoy doing, create what I want to create and experiment madly to see where it takes me. I do it all with passion, with all my heart. I hope to become a professional artist and also make a career out of it. Does that mean going back to the corporate world of assignments, constraints…pressures and restrictions? Maybe I just didn’t find a place where I truly fit in – there must be some fab offices out there, right? Or perhaps there are passionless people in every industry, so you just have to find the right group to stick with in the end? Hmm… I’m still going through this beginning phase of my creative journey and I wonder where all these thoughts will take me. I’ve come to realize that both sides of the issue matter to me now. I want to make money and have that security for my family and well being, also to be self-sufficient personally, but I also want to do what I love with passion, heart and soul dashed in. Is it possible to have it all?