I celebrated my six month anniversary with Serif last week! What a grand accomplishment it is; I know. With only six months under my belt, this may be as valuable as dating advice from a middle schooler, but I want to share what I have learned thus far about being an artist for a living:
My artist has had a lot of temper tantrums in the last six months. She is a wild thing, full of visuals words can’t depict and hands can’t always create, though I try. She is enamored by the abstract and lost in obsession over the beauty of small details. She appreciates with deep affection and creates out of simple delight. She doesn’t always love that in many ways I have exploited her over the last six months. This kind of exploitation is not sustainable; we cannot neglect our artist.
I can’t do my job without my artist. If she quits on me (as has happened many times over the last six months), I am essentially worthless, unable to create. On the other hand, if she rules, I am essentially worthless, unable to execute.
My older brother is a writer and while I was visiting him for Thanksgiving we talked about what it is like to create for a living. Sensing the frustration I have had recently, he shared with me how there is a certain kind of story he really loves to write, but how the majority of his job is writing articles or blog posts to simply fill the home page. He repeatedly said, “Everyone needs to find at least one part of their job that they really like, that they can get excited about. Because when you can do that, the other work is essentially why you get paid.” I think the part of my job I really like is when I get to let my artist run wild. Well,…the wild don’t get paid.
I can’t do my job without my artist. If she quits on me, I am essentially worthless, unable to create. On the other hand, if she rules (as has happened many times over the last six months), I am essentially worthless, unable to execute.
Create what you love so you can create because it is your job. What I have found is when I create time and space to appreciate my artist, to let her run as wild as she wishes, she delivers when it is time for the projects that are not wild by nature. Sometimes running wild means creating out of simple delight, without specified purpose. Other times running wild means simply momentarily disregarding direction and creating one extra proposal for the primary regard of my artist and not my client. The best days are when running wild is what a project calls for, what the client wants. But those days aren’t guaranteed and that is okay. So long as we don’t forget we are artists first, I think there is a sweet spot to be discovered where our artist can thrive, knowing she is appreciated and that working hard is a part of life, though different from her nature, still beautiful.
Maybe in six more months I will wish this was written in a spiral notebook, privately hidden in my bedside table as I am thankful that is the case for my dating advice I thought so valuable as a middle schooler. I am aware I have so much still to learn, but we all start somewhere!