All my life I have been told that “if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life”. Now I am going to tell you a big scary truth: this is some rich person “I can hire a person for that” bullshit. No matter what you do in life there will be shitty parts of that job. I’m an artist, I make art and objects by using handcrafts that I LOVE doing. I love woodworking, I love working with leather, I love clay, I love drawing, and I love designing new pasties but everything I do is work. I do not love expense reports, or trying to figure out what in the actual fuck taxes are (this is a constant struggle). Both the things I love and the things that I do begrudgingly are all work. I work at drawing. My woodworking and leather crafting skills are EONS better than they originally were because I work on them.
The idea that doing what I love would mean never feeling like I was working was probably the most detrimental belief that I ever held in terms of progress for my business. I avoided starting working in wood because it was something I was going to have to work at; the same can be said for leather. If you don’t work you will never improve. Natural talent is bullshit. Ability is a muscle you have to exercise or you will stagnate. In our current artisan culture a lack of innovation and improvement year to year will lead to stagnation and stagnation is paramount to death.
I speak to a lot of people who say things like “Oh I have a creative business but it had to be put on a back burner no one has booked me in years and I don’t know why”, or “oh that’s a cute hobby”. These both relate back to the idea that creative jobs aren’t going to work. Yes a solid chunk of my job is drawing or crafting. But I also spend a lot of time promoting myself, networking, improving my skills, and forcing my foot in the door to carve out a space for myself. That’s why I say I own my own business not I’m an artist. There is so much more to what I do than art. A successful business is not created by making a facebook page and making a post every once in awhile. Any successful business, even if it’s what you love, is work, real hard work that you won’t always want to do.
Now I am not successful yet; but I regularly watch my old classmates and friends launch businesses only to fail a few months later. Telling people that doing what you love means not working is the reason that a lot of creative endeavors won’t survive their first year. Work your ass off, improve your craft, and do your fucking paperwork.