(this post is a reprint of one of the first posts on my original WordPress.com blog)
Not very many years ago, I was not doing as much art as I would have liked. I certainly wasn’t doing art with an eye toward making a business from it, making a living from creating art. I am blessed by the fact that I have so much time to devote to it now, and a bit overwhelmed by the business aspects of making it a business. I am also blessed that I have a clear vision of what my sculpture is supposed to look like and that it is unique in many ways.
So what do you do when you must do something to make a living that does not particularly make you feel alive? Are you convinced that you cannot make a living doing something you love and so you go on making a living doing something you hate?
How do you find your way free from that? You have bills to pay, right?
Well, here are some suggestions:
Think about what you liked doing most when you were a kid.
What made you happiest while you were doing it?
What about later in life? What were you doing when you were happiest?
If you have hobbies, what are they?
Think about where you work now and what kind of people you are happiest working with and doing things for?
If you work for a company, what is it you are doing that benefits your company the most?
Can you make a business doing that freelancing?
If you are a great negotiator…can you be a negotiating consultant?
If you have a great strategy for selling anything, can you market and sell that?
There are people every day that worked for someone doing what they are doing now, and now own their own business doing that very thing. I spoke today with someone I want to do the patinas on all my sculpture and her enthusiasm for what she does is evident. Well, after working for foundries for years, she started her own business doing patinas. Her work is a work of art all on its own.
Think about when you were in school, what did you do best? What was your favorite subject and why. It may not have had anything to do with your major. I was a psychology major, for heaven’s sake, also a mom, also a spouse…all the time while I was in college. But I always took an art elective when I could, I always did something creative, maybe I made a birthday gift for someone instead of buying something, or I might have searched for a really great sounding recipe and cooked it for dinner.
Think about all the times you are having the most fun with other people. What the heck are you doing? When you are having the most fun by yourself, what are you doing?
You have had an unusually “fun” day at your crappy job…why was it fun?
You love organizing your finances and paying your bills. Do you know how many people in the world really hate to do that? Could your business be to do that for the people who hate doing it for themselves?
How about organizing stuff? You are the best organizer of stuff you know – there are people who are hired to organize stuff.
And if you know for sure what you would love to do most, you don’t have to jump right into doing it. You don’t have to be radical, quit your job – whatever.
Maybe you love fixing bikes – why not work at a bike shop one day a week? What if you love bread? Why not learn how to make artisan bread – take a class.
Find out about other people who have started a business based on what they love to do and how they did that. Especially if they started a business doing the same thing you love to do.
Do you love to shop at thrift stores? Why not start collecting the coolest things you can find, use that money from the job you hate to rent a storage unit and put it all in there and then open a shop and sell it. How much fun will you have just finding the stuff in the first place? I know someone who loved to go to garage sales and one day started re-selling her great finds on e-bay. She started an antique store. Another friend of mine’s mom loved sea shells. She started a business after years of waitressing called She Loves Sea Shells and other shops. This same friend, is an artist as well, you can see her beautiful original ceramic mermaids and buy them on Etsy and in art galleries in Florida.
The point really is, if you hate what you have to do for “work”. Don’t despair! Be proactive! Set aside a certain amount of time a day (15 minutes…30 minutes) to think about what IT is that you might love to do. Then think about how any of those things can be profitable. Make a plan – a map of the steps you need to take to get there.
When you are working at something you genuinely enjoy, it is an inspiration. You may feel guilty about it, as though you are just playing. That is how I feel when I am sculpting the horses. I am playing, just like I did when I was a kid. And when I’m finished with a horse I am amazed by it. I don’t know how it happened, not really. But that is what happens. One day it is there before you and the love and passion that went into it is evident.
Just as art that is most inspirational is the art that is a genuine reflection of the passion of the artist who creates it – while it may take a lot of time and work to find your own unique voice, and put that toward whatever it is you want to do, the intrinsic rewards it will bring you will be well worth the effort.
It also pays forward things for others that you would never be able to imagine (and may never know about). Film actress Colleen Moore built a dollhouse that I saw in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago on a school field trip when I was a kid. It is there still on permanent display. She worked on it until she died. It is incredible.
She made a genuine contribution to the world, (if you haven’t seen it you are probably thinking…a dollhouse? This isn’t just any dollhouse – its beyond what you might ever imagine) but making any contribution to the world was not the reason she did it.
We are constantly hearing in the media voices all around us that we deserve this that or the other thing. But, I think that what we deserve to give most of our attention to is what we love most. Whatever follows that will be of no consequence to us when we are gone, but perhaps it will be a great deal of consequence to someone else.
So why not make what you do as great as you can?