Why I Chose to become a Working Creative | And Should You?

The choice to begin working as an artist was not one that was made in a day. Rather I'd say it's been mulling in my heart over the course of my life time. I plan to write a more in depth post about my journey, but for today; my hope is that this will help you evaluate where you are with your dreams, your heart and your intentions. Setting you up to make the best decision for you.

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Around the time I was leaving my full time job. I was dating my now husband, Keith, and wrestling over whether I should go back to school to become a counsellor, or pursue art as a career. I remember arguing with him during a road trip back from New York about all the reasons why I couldn't work as an artist.

My top three reasonings were:

  1. I feared art would become laborious and no longer enjoyable due to burn out.
  2. I feared no one would want what I had to offer.
  3. I wasn't sure I was willing to pay the cost to make it happen. 

And I will never forget his response:

He said to me, "Mel, people are always going to ask you to create things for them. And you are always going to say yes. So you can get paid, and paid well for it. Or not."

That statement alone put it perspective for me. I realized that my passion to create art for others was great enough.. that I was still always going to create for other people. And the fear that I would fall short in my pursuit of a dream to work as an artist was simply not a good enough excuse to not pursue it.

However, as I said... I soberingly stepped in to this decision and tried my best to really examine my heart and intentions before I jumped in feet first. So here are 7 Hard Questions to ask yourself, and a few Action Items to get you going.

 Image:  Killian Rose

7 questions to ask yourself:

*Disclaimer: I am not claiming that each of these will apply to you, or be relevant for your situation. However I carefully chose these questions and action items because they are true to me. And they are what I've heard echoed time and again throughout my conversations with my friends who have also been working as self-employed creatives. 

  1. Am I willing to pay the cost to make it happen? You'll hear it time and again.. but it won't be easy. Late nights, missed deadlines, and upset customers are the obvious parts. But it will affect the things dear to you, like your relationships. You will argue with your significant other, you won't be as consistent of a friend. It will affect your finances, you will make the wrong decisions, and will likely make a fool of yourself. It is stressful, so ask yourself if you are willing to not just take on the creating, but take on the lifestyle of it. 
  2. Do I simply want a large social media following? I have so much I could say about this. But to sum it up. This is the absolute worst reason you should ever pursue something. Ever. A desire to have an influence to make a real impact in the world can be pursued in a myriad of ways. I love Instagram, and I think it can absolutely be a powerful platform for change, good, keeping up with friends, and business. But if what you're chasing is simply fame for fames sake? It will never be worth it. It's not eternal.
  3. Am I chasing smoke and mirrors? My thoughts above can apply to this as well. But essentially.. if you want to be a fashion blogger because it looks glamorous. Try to talk to a fashion blogger about what her life actually looks like. You are signing up for a lifestyle. Not just pretty pictures, and people that think you look cool.
  4. Can I make a living at it? This is something that is neglected too much at the beginning. Practically speaking... is there a market? Do you think you can make a living at it? What do you need to live? Financial strains can make your business unenjoyable and s.t.r.e.s.s.f.u.l. And at the end of the day... you want to do this because it makes you happy, and can provide the life you want for yourself and your family.
  5. Would I be doing it anyway? This ties back to the question that Keith asked me a few years ago. Will that passion be a part of your life whether you make money at it or not? If so, the chances are you will be willing to hang in there when the going gets tough.
  6. Am I forcing it? I believe there is a season for everything. Sometimes we carry dreams for years before the timing is right, and the dream is developed. Maybe you aren't done with school yet, or you need to pay off loans in a significant way before you can step away from you job. Or maybe you just need a little more skill, humility, or maturity. I know both of those have applied to me at different times! We would be having a very different conversation today if I had started my business at 21!
  7. Why not? Ask yourself why you wouldn't purse your dream. Are these "why nots" valid? Or is fear controlling your life more than hope?

Action Items: 

  1. Talk with someone who is in the field you want to enter. This can be scary.. and if they say no, they say no. But in my experience people are so happy, and flattered that you thought of them as someone to seek wisdom from. I know I am! Most people love to talk about what they are passionate about. Putting myself out there and seeking wisdom from others ahead of me has lead to some really special relationships. Now this is not networking for the sake of networking. People can smell that. Genuinely, and as humbly as you can.. seek wisdom, not the "connections" that that person could bring you.
  2. Educate yourself. Read, listen to podcasts, look for tutorials, take a workshop, etc. There is SO MUCH information out there waiting for you. Educating yourself on what it will actually take to do your dream will help you be able to visualize yourself operating in that field day to day far more easily! And continue to do this! Never stop learning and growing from others.
  3. Ask others to play devil's advocate. Welcome the critiques and concerns of those around you that love you, and really know you. Chances are they see your blind spots, have their concerns, and know your patterns far better than you do.  This is hard... but it can save you from a world of hurt, and strengthen your relationships along the way!

 

Pursuing a dream takes guts.

It is one of the things most dear to your heart, and involves both your gifts and your calling. So ask yourself hard questions, and welcome criticism. But be kind to yourself. It's near impossible to have it all figured out. I know I sure don't!

I would love to answer any questions you have, meet up for coffee, or hear how this resonated with you! 

Keep chasing, keep dreaming!

xo