We are told that to succeed in anything, one must focus on that one thing and do that one thing well. Fine, but what if the one thing you focus on requires many things to be done well, to succeed? How do we manage our success while being a half committed artist?
Who among us has not had an observation about films, music, art and uttered, “They sure don’t make ‘em the way they used to!”
That makes me question, does the art suffer if the artist can only be half committed? We may come to a point where we finally say to ourselves that the time for complete commitment has come. Our sideline creativity has come to a crossroad and it is time to commit or quit.
A typically unavoidable fact is that there are many talented people who need some regular supporting income that allows them to do their creative work. So much can be said about this truth.
The aspiring artist may have arrived where their work has evolved as far as it can go but must “set it aside” for other income sources to be fulfilled. If the aspiring artist is split between dedicating themselves wholly towards too many requirements, the notion often evolves towards cutting a few of those away to clear the path to succeed at the desired goal of being a self-supporting artist. The thought might be that one must focus and do the one thing well. That is when the artist positions themselves on the precipice of life’s proverbial cliff to “make the leap” and do the thing they were truly meant to do!
Sell the House?
Hopefully, the prospect that your significant other or your family will either cheer you on, or disown you, has already been considered before making your announcement. Much is made of chucking the old job, selling the house, and setting up shop in the country somewhere to finally write that novel, write the opus, create the body of work. That is a healthy fantasy, but it is assumed that the artist does only one thing. That is, nothing to do but paint pictures or write pages, or play music. Not frivolously, mind you, but dedicated! How untrue and unprofessional this fantasy is.
Personally, I have not yet taken the running leap off the proverbial cliff. Although I feel like I might be hanging on that always present branch that juts out from the cliffs face. There I probably am, dangling before I loose myself and let the wings take flight. Here, suspended between full commitment and drawing back from the edge of the cliff, I find that focusing on the one thing in order to succeed at being a full professional in my field requires many, many things unrelated to the popular idea of what being an artist means. Today’s artist must be able to do more than just the one thing well.
Business Owner – Entrepreneur
Many of us have set ourselves up as a small business to help us manage our necessary purchases, rentals, expenses, and income as our work develops beyond the “at home” stage. Managing the business, no matter how modest, still needs to be done. That includes the accounting! Accounting seems most opposite of being creative. At least it better be!
“Being in sales” sounds more like something heard at a regional manager’s convention than at an art studio! However, good salespeople are often able to understand the needs of the customer or client and pinpoint how to satisfy that need. Not all salespeople are the “used car lot” types. The good ones are also caring about their clients and know that a good sale means a good relationship.
Oh no! Marketing is supposed to be the antithesis of art. Well, but it is creative. Thankfully, the type of “good” marketing I find myself doing is simply insuring I have enough exposure for people to know I exist and to maintain a relationship with an audience or client base. However, that also means becoming versed in the language of marketing and social media.
Social Media, Webmaster and Content Manager
It is a constant upkeep of creating and managing content for an audience. I would like my content to be enjoyable, inspiring, and engaging. If an artist is hiring someone to handle their online presence, then great! However, most of us do it ourselves. If that is your case, then you know you are always having to manage and improve your content and platforms.
Do not forget: Being an artist !
This is truly a calling. If your artistic dedication is to either paint or play golf, then you are safe from this discussion. Making art for the pure joy of it is highly encouraged! However, if making art because life is difficult if you do not, then you may already know that your thoughts are continuously at the passionate service of your ideas and observations.
Perhaps it is a rite of passage and maybe we are tested by fire before the reward is received. If we find that we have gone from the weekend artist towards the full-time (or mostly full-time) artist, we must find out whether we are willing to dedicate ourselves happily, to the many tasks required to maintain an arts practice. Shedding all the burdensome occupations to pursue one’s craft is to only find yourself engaged in all the various other things necessary to allow for that to happen.
The artist may find themselves working even harder in every other kind of way outside of creating their art. However, if the artist can wake up each day and be glad to keep going, even through challenges and doubt, to maintain perseverance while managing their schedules, tasks and creative output, as well as a side job, then may that artist reach their intended definition of success. It is possible the art public will be better for it as well. Perhaps then, the arts could delight us to the highest while appealing and drawing out the best in us.
Once, I was out painting and someone came up and admired what I was doing. Then they said to me, “Man, I wish I could be an artist and just paint pictures all day”.
I made a quiet grin and wondered to myself what that would be like!