Whether you are a photographer, a millinery, a painter, a clothing designer or a wood worker being an artist is tough with a capital T. An artist's work is always on display for criticism and critique. It's hard hearing unkind words about your design.
Every time an artist creates, a little bit of their aura is woven into that piece. For me, every piece of jewellery I make is hard for me to let go to a new owner because every piece has a little bit of me woven into the fibres of its craftsmanship. When someone says that I'll never make enough money doing what I do, or that it will be too hard of a life for me... I just listen with a kind smile knowing they are worried for me. They don't understand how I will be able to make a stable living and follow the normal traditions; pay cheque every two weeks, meet a nice boy (or girl), buy a house, get married, have babies, get promotion. I then politely ignore some of this advice. That's just not me. Try not to let other people's fears destroy your dreams. If you want it you can make a living as a painter or another type of artist, you are just going to have to work VERY hard at it. You just have to work for it. You are going to have to own it. You are going to have to want it and I can't stress having an amazing support system by your side.
As someone who doesn't go to a regular 9-5 job, as an artist and entrepreneur, you work twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. You see designs and dream up ideas ALL day long; in your dreams, in your milk swirls at the bottom of your cereal bowl, in the patterns of your calico cat's belly although the later is a rarity! You do late nights, you work on weekends and after you've been in the studio for hours and even after you step out of the studio; you are still editing photos, still brainstorming new blog posts, still dreaming up the latest collection trying to stay one step ahead of your competitors, planning storyboards for editorial creatives and all the while still trying to have an online presence and a voice on social media to keep your fans and customers happy, to keep your work out in the community and out in the world.
As an artist you have to believe in your self, have self motivation, dedication and perseverance. You have to weed through all the media, all the background noise coming at you saying you have to live to work.... As an artist I want to work to live. Life doesn't have to be for everyone about putting on a pin stripe suit, reading the paper on a morning commute and getting a steady pay cheque. As an artist making a living can sometimes be super hard! Sometimes you have to move back in with your parents when you can't pay the rent and maybe you have to eat non organic food for a few months until your next collection launches. As an entrepreneur your always going to pick yourself back up and preserver if you believe in yourself, because the pay out is so worth it in the end. If you find it a struggle to support yourself with your craft try pointing your skills in a different direction. Try launching a new collection which gives your current customers something to come back to your site or your store for. Instead of just offering necklaces, try expanding your lines, what about rings, hand chains, or back necklaces? Perhaps your creativity needs a different outlet or venue. For years I had been doing my every day collection of Hattitude jewellery and one day I got commissioned to do a wedding and it sparked an idea growing from there. I went from doing local craft shows, to doing bridal trade shows in downtown Toronto. I changed up my angle and my target market and the money has followed. One day you may see your hard work make its way onto the front cover of a magazine (mine did last May!), someone walking down the street wearing a piece of your clothing or your painting shown in a prestigious gallery.
An artists perseveres, struggles and makes it their own. When someone asks you what you do and you stutter a bit and choke on the words "I mmmm ake jew...elleryyy". You have to own it, after a few years of owning my own company, I now respond with "I'm a jewellery designer, specializing in wedding designs for bridal parties" instead of the former response. Own what you do as an artist. Because you as an artist are fantastic. And you are unique. Follow through on your dreams. Change up your angle. Never give up. And embrace it.
Live. Play. Create. Own.