I have been thinking about this a lot. I once watched a video of an artist talking about how much she had to sacrifice in order to live her dream. It was blunt and truthful. I could relate to her in so many ways.
I have a lot of people tell me, “I wish I had your life” or “You are such an example”. I have been asked on many occasions recently to talk to or mentor people about the art world and living their dreams. So I’ve been giving it some thought on what to say.
I spoke to an artist at a festival awhile back. I was working a promotion at the festival. I told him I was also an artist. His response was, “that’s great. I have young people ask me all the time how to live as an artist, and I tell them to get a real job that will pay the bills”.
That’s almost what I feel like I need to say. I think following your passion is one of the most important things can do to find happiness and satisfaction in your life. But in all honesty, there are a lot of not so “shiny” things about living your dream.
I don’t want to discourage anyone. I want to only encourage. But I won’t lie to anyone either. Being an independent artist (except for a chosen few) is not easy work. The pros: I get to live my dream, I get to be with my son, I get to do what I love, I am constantly inspired, I live by my own rules. The cons: I worry about how I will pay bills, I have to work more than most people because I don’t just paint…I have to market, network, teach, etc, I don’t get sick days, I don’t get paid vacations, I don’t have good health insurance.
I think when most people look at my life they see what they want to see. But in honesty, I live on a very tight budget. I worry about how things will get paid. I have a to-do list that never ends. I don’t get a lot of sleep so I can be a mom and an artist. I have to deal with students I sometimes don’t like (which are far outweighed by the ones I do!). I don’t do a lot of things or have a lot of things I want just because I live on a tight budget.
Now ask me “is it worth it?” My answer, “ABSOLUTELY!” I have no regrets. I am living a life I am proud of. My decisions have allowed me to be a better mom, a better person, a better mentor. In the end it’s not really a sacrifice as it is a choice.