“Imagination is more important than Knowledge.” - Albert Einstein
I think a lot of artists can relate to the feeling that they are doing things differently. Their love for their craft is deep, the passion to create bubbles up from within, and if suppressed, can lead to a painful internal struggle. To have a “normal” job, fulfilling someone else’s vision rather than their own becomes a path of slow death. Creative, spiritual death.
To blaze your own path becomes the only choice.
So how does one navigate through life’s challenges while hustling to stay on that path?
You need money to pay rent/mortgage, buy food, transportation, art supplies, student loans, etc.
You need to work to get money. If that income isn’t coming from your own artistic endeavors, you are working for someone else.
Sometimes it might feel like you are stuck in the system.
To get out of the system, you need a financial cushion. Most of us don’t have a trust fund or rich relatives to fund our goals. That means it’s all on you.
You will need to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. You will need to sacrifice time, social activities, luxuries such as entertainment, gadgets, etc. You will be exhausted and want to give up sometimes. Non-creative people and traditional minded family members will tell you to stop killing yourself for a silly dream. You will just smile and nod and continue on your way.
But if working one or two or three jobs for one or two years will provide that financial cushion that allows you to blaze your own path as an artist, that is the way you must go.
During that time of preparation (work), keep building up your skills. Build as strong a portfolio as you can. Start sharing your artwork in different communities and getting feedback. Never stop learning. This will lay the groundwork for when you are finally ready to quit your day jobs (if you want) to work as a full-time artist.
I can only speak from my own experience, and recall what I’ve seen from other successful artists.
My own path led me through two college degrees (expensive student loans) and countless jobs, and years of questionable glances from others about why I need to make art more than a “hobby.”
Artists often face a certain sense of isolation from the world around them. Their friends and families might not fully understand the motive to sacrifice so much for what seems to be a difficult dream to achieve.
They might wonder why someone would choose to struggle paycheck to paycheck, spend hours in their studio rather than be out with friends, and live a minimal lifestyle.
Over the years I’ve been given plenty of financial advice. Most often it is recommended that I put aside my artistic goals for however many years (10?) it takes to work at a respectable job and make a salary that will pay off my student loans, debts, etc.
Why can’t I do that?
Because if I took that path, I would be dead by the end of those 10 years.
Maybe not physically...but emotionally, spiritually, creatively dead.
To me, living paycheck to paycheck and budget traveling and eating cheaply, and not buying “things,” - all for the chance to do what I love every day is worth it!
Going against the grain - the society norm, parent’s wishes, expectations, etc. - is sometimes necessary to be happy. For an artist, it is a lifestyle. A choice.
If you are out there blazing your own path, I want you to know those sacrifices and hard work will pay off.
Being part of an artist community (whether it’s in person or online) makes the road less lonely. Sharing your process, failures and triumphs with like-minded people enriches the journey.
Spend time getting to know successful artists, read interviews, ask questions, do what you can do learn from their mistakes and successes.
It may be difficult to ignore the advice and criticisms of those who don’t understand your dreams, but you have to. Don’t let that get you down! There are so many more people out there who have paved their own way, and so can you.
If you have any stories to share, please comment below or message me. I'd love to hear about your artistic journey!!