And You’ll love what you do!

do what you love

You know that Eureka moment when you decided to be an artist, build a business and either make a few extra pennies or a full time business? In that moment, what did you picture? What was the motivation? 

I know there are many reasons involved in my own thought process, from being at home for my kids, to being utterly unemployable and the worlds grumpiest commuter.

So, there was a motivation to be able to provide for my family in an environment that suited, but I hadn’t really considered that I could also be doing something that I truly loved at the same time.

But why the hell not?

If you are going to commit to building your own business, then shouldn’t you make sure that it is going to be something that you truly love? Can you answer yes to any of the following? :-

  • Do you have a plan in place, something that makes your heart sing every time you look at it?
  • Do you look forward to starting work each day?
  • Do you think about work, when you are not ‘officially’ working?
  • Are you excited by the prospect of starting a new project?
  • Do you look at the world through shades of colours in a palette or light, shadow and composition?
  • Do you have a true meaning of validation and purpose behind your work, other than just ‘paying the bills’?

If you’re nodding like Churchill the insurance hound, you my friend are on the right road. If you are, however, staring into your half drunk, cold coffee and sighing – then read on and let’s see if we can get you back on track.

So, let’s look a little more in-depth at those questions, because it’s the underlying route to your long term success.

It all starts with a plan. And by this, I mean a plan that is guaranteed to bring you joy. If you write a plan that is totally focused on what financial gains it will bring, then you may as well be back doing that 9-5 slog again, although I guess you can at least wear your pyjamas! 😂

How Do You Make a Plan?

Now I am not going to go into the ins and outs of a lengthy business plan, I’ll be covering all of that in the art business course – but I want you to look at people you admire and aspire to be. What are they doing that makes them successful? Why are people so drawn to them? What is the secret ingredient?

In the vast majority of cases it’s Passion – pure and simple. These people ooze enthusiasm for what they do. And I don’t necessarily mean they are actively banging their drum on social media, I mean it shows through their work. They are reaching their goals, they are loving what they do and they are setting themselves new and exciting challenges all the time.

When you chose to create an art based business, I can only assume that there must have been a love of drawing/painting/creating and it’s something that you still love to do. But are you creating what you love? Or are you creating something that will just pay the bills?

Is it Possible to Have Both?

Yes, it absolutely is, but you need to stop and think about what you want. It’s so easy to keep the blinkers on and focus ahead, but there are other paths off to the side that you may no longer be seeing. Take some time out to write a list of questions and answer them honestly, here are some things you might consider:-

  • Do you actually enjoy your current subject matter? (ie portraits)
  • Have you looked into any other genres?
  • What attracted you to pick up that pencil/brush in the first place?
  • Who are your art idols?
  • Can you see yourself doing this for years to come?
  • Would you want to?
  • What causes are close to your heart?
  • What purpose does your art serve? (pays bills, makes the client happy and so on)
  • What purpose would you like your art to serve?
  • What subject matter makes you smile?
  • What are you really good at?
  • Can you remember the last time you were fired up and motivated about your art?

There’s lots of questions you can ask yourself, but those above can serve you well.

Having sat down and been brutally honest with yourself, I’m hoping that you may of had, or at least be nearing a bit of an aha moment. I’m hoping that you have had a really good think about what will get your fired up and passionate about what you can do.

Do what you love

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not living in cloud cuckoo land here. I appreciate that you may not be able to drop what you are doing and paint birds (unless you already are of course). If, like me, you paint pet portraits, then you will likely already have clients and commitments. But, if drawing other peoples pets isn’t what you’d really love to do, then it’s only you that can change that.

Let’s take pet portraits as an example, as I know it’s something that many artists do from home to earn an income. What if you just don’t want to draw dogs anymore, maybe you never really did. Think about why you ended up doing it, did you see it as a viable option to make some extra money? A way to combine art and working from home?

It’s most likely something along those lines. When you started, you likely went online, joined some groups, did some research and tutorials and got yourself to a point where you could offer your services as a portrait artist. Great – but did you ever stop to actually ask yourself if that is what you want to do?

It’s so easy to take an option because others are doing it, and doing it well, but it’s often to our own detriment because it might not be something that will invoke any feeling, other than a slight relief the gas bill got paid.

Choosing Something You Love

I asked further up about causes and goals, and the reason for that is quite simple. If you have a cause that is close to your heart, then it’s most likely something that you can channel into your art. If you have goals (pay off my mortgage, send my child on the school trip, buy a new art desk etc), then sometimes that is enough, because you have a passion to reach your goal and how you get there is irrelevant.

Let me give you an example. Here is how my thought process went and how I addressed some of the questions above.

  • Do I like drawing dogs? It’s OK, I get a bit bored with it
  • What do I like about being a pet portrait artist? Interacting with other artists, making a client happy, being able to work it around my main job, getting paid.
  • What purpose does it serve? it allows me the funds to invest back into my marketing business and buy family extras.
  • What Do I Actually Like Drawing? Birds and Wildlife
  • Why? Because I have many wild birds that visit my garden and I even name them, I love nature and nature programs and as I’ve got older I have a real interest in conservation and animal welfare.
  • Any other reasons? I’d like to have the freedom to draw exactly what I choose, what I’m passionate about. I find all the colours and structure of birds so interesting and challenging to draw
  • How will you monetise it? There are a few ways I’ve looked into, from selling originals, prints and various other products to going down the route of galleries. I wouldn’t walk away from drawing pets overnight, I’d still use the income from that whilst slowly starting to investigate and dip my toe into this other field.
  • What else will make it more attractive? I’d like to find some way to collaborate with some bird rescue centres, maybe do some artwork for their website or donate a percentage of a run of certain prints to a local wildlife fund. I’d like to give something back to the charities that work tirelessly to look after the wildlife that I love. I’d also love to team up with other artists with the same passion on a collaboration.
  • How are you feeling now? Pretty darn motivated

OK, so you can see how that works for a simple process like drawing pets. And for me, art will remain my secondary job for the foreseeable because my main passion lies with teaching, and that is what fires me up and keeps me truly motivated, hence why I write this blog, work one to one with artists and produce the art marketing course.

Maybe you’d enjoy teaching too, don’t ever rule out sharing your skills with others. Many artists are earning a good living through sites such as Patreon, teaching their own skills and knowledge to others.

Whatever you choose to do, try and love it – borderline obsess over it, because then, and only then, will you truly find a passion for your work as an artist, and in turn it will shine through in your work. Just like those people you admire.

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