Thursday, March 06, 2008

Blog comments are my new message from a stranger?

So I finished my little novella about finally getting around to making art for a living.

I think if I boiled down all the words in my "Getting what you wanted posts" to a single point, it would be that you don't get what you want until you are ready to do what you have to do to have it. And by that I mean fully commit to it. That means agreeing with yourself to complete tasks that you aren't aware of yet. To do the less exciting aspects of being an art-based business. To leave the certainty of a regular paycheck and trust that your decisions will move you forward on your path, and when they don't, trust that you will be able to recognize your mistakes and minimize their impact.

In writing about some of the parts of my progression to becoming a working artist, I covered some of the less tangible things that occurred along the way, like the message I received from a stranger, etc. that I felt were less common experiences in such a process. I think everyone has those moments, or at least I hope they do, that allows them to grow either personally or professionally. It's whether or not you are fortunate enough to recognize those moments and take something positive away from them that is different for each of us.

The most common experience, in getting what you want is, in my opinion, working hard for it. There are some people who get what appears to be what they want with what looks like little or no work, but I think those folks pay a price that we don't see, in terms of happiness, privacy, etc. I also don't think they get to have and enjoy what they want for as long as the people who take a longer, harder path to it.

Someone commented on this blog that I was fortunate to have this success fall into my lap, and while I have been very fortunate, it has never really felt like success was falling into my lap, so to speak. If you read a good amount of artists bios, you will find many artists who did not know that they wanted to be an artist until some gift of art supplies or a life-changing event opened their eyes to the possibility. I have always seen myself as wanting to be a full-time artist, as knowing that being an artist was what I wanted to do. And until something like Etsy came along, that just wasn't a possibility for me. So I tend to think that I worked toward this moment for a major part of my life.

But maybe I didn't. Maybe I stumbled upon success. I know I still have a lot left to do, and I think I am not sitting around admiring my "empire".

I have never thought myself to be an accidental artist. Not because I don't like accidental artists, but because I have been trying to be an artist for so long that it certainly is not an accident. So when someone tells me that it kinda looks like I am, I take notice. I thought about this for several weeks, and toward the end of that time, I began to wonder what purpose that comment and my subsequent thought about it is supposed to have for me.

And it finally occurred to me, maybe I am (figuratively) sitting around admiring my hard work. The daily grind of running an art business could be fooling me into thinking that I am progressing and doing all I can to get my work out. Perhaps even though I know I have more work to do as an artist, I'm not really necessarily doing it.

My works hours are quite a bit less than they used to be, and where there once used to be no separation between work and home life (because it was almost all work life), there is separation now. Most of work stays at the studio, and time at home is spent being at home, instead of toiling away to all hours of the night.

So, here again, someone I don't know has said something to me that has snapped me out of my stupor. Thanks stranger.


Joshua said...

Hi John.
I'm the stranger that made the comment, "You're lucky for the whole situation to sort of fall in your lap." I didn't mean to offend you or imply you don't deserve it, because you do! I understand you've been honing your skills for years. It's obvious that the work you produce isn't something someone accidentally stumbled upon over night.

To explain, let me start by saying you had mentioned through previous blog posts you wanted to make a living off your art, but didn't really jump all the way in the water until your Etsy orders, mixed with your day job, left you with no time. You realized you were already making a living off your art... or that you could make a living off your art.

When I said "sort of fell in your lap" I meant that you didn't quit your day job in hopes of building an art business, like a traditional start-up. Most businesses start with a business plan, etc. You had the good fortune of your art business sort of taking over your day job. In that regard I thought it sort of fell in your lap.

I'm a big fan of yours. My wife bought me one of your robot (orange) prints for my birthday. Keep up the great work!


John said...

Hey there Josh,

Hope you don't think I was offended and that you didn't think I was complaining or ragging on you :). I was actually saying that your comment helped me to re-evaluate what I have been up to since going Etsy full-time began to pay off. I think I got myself thinking that I was working hard non-stop, when in reality I wasn't working as hard at moving the business along as I could have been.

So, I actually saw your comment as a good thing and agree with you :). Along the same lines as the previous "message from a stranger".

I owe you one!

catbishop said...

I wish someone would wake my artist ass up with some kinda comment...

seriously, someone please visit my blog and enlighten me.

:) cat

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for this post! And I appreciate, especially "you don't get what you want until you are ready to do what you have to do to have it".
I have greatly admired your work since I found you on Etsy last year, and I just discovered your blog today (which I have been thoroughly enjoying).
Just wanted to let you know someone else out there thinks your work is great. :)