What's your Art?
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.”
― Seth Godin
I'm awake; I have been since 4 am. I didn't immediately get up but, instead, read a bit of my book on my Kindle app. (I've just started Ollie Ollerton's book, Break Point. There's clearly a theme right now, given that I've read all the other biographies of the team from SAS: Who Dares Wins save Jason Fox's book, Battle Scars.)
I've drunk nearly a pint of cranberry — my favourite drink — and have poured, but not yet drunk, my first cup of coffee.
And, surprisingly, despite the very early start, I feel pretty good — not the usual groggy state I often feel in having been up, or so it seems, half the bloody night.
Of course, work is up ahead but, right now, Art is on my mind.
No, I don't mean the Van Gogh variety — as if...! — but your very best work. You know, the sort of stuff where you don't have to try.
Perhaps it's too trite to say we're all artists, but we are. The trouble is, for vast swathes of us — me included — we never actually bury ourselves in one or even two things to know what it is (as if we've got a choice). As a slight segue, why is it that so many retired people take up painting? Because they enjoy it? Possibly, but why wait until you're retired, particularly if you've got the talent to sell your work?
Let's back up.
What is your Art?
Is it what you're now doing?
Is it what you'd like to be doing?
Or, as I think is more often the case, you simply don't know?
Don't worry, I'll skip the usual finger-pointing and exhortation and get down to the real issue: money.
In case you hadn't worked it out, that sort of Art doesn't pay the bills. Sure, it's nice to do once in a while but no one or at least very, very few people are going to starve for their Art. Why should they? I mean, if you're happy to keep your nose clean, conform on a certain level and aren't too choosy about what you do, more often than not (not always especially if you're living with or through a disability) you'll find work. And if you're lucky, and the embers still glow brightly, you'll find the time, in between everything else, to do your thing. A few, a very few, do cut the Gordian Knot from the old way to something, well, more developed, more wholesome and enlivening, but too often the dream becomes a nightmare. I've seen this too often in the small business community where the dream of working for yourself is wrecked by the constant thrashing to find work, get paid and hold your shit together.
But of course, those extolling the virtue of self-actualisation — bloody Maslow 🤣 — don't like to hear these negative vibes. They want you to bury yourself for your Art and follow their lead. Don't get me wrong: if your desire is so strong that nothing else matters, then you'll do it, but these days with so much choice, you have to be extra, extra special to turn the white heat of your passion into something more than a hobby. Oh, and one other thing, you need talent. I don't mean to suggest you have to be the next New-Kid-On-The-Block but you need to find a tribe that's sufficiently turned on by your Art to not only pay for it but sneeze your message beyond a few dedicated fans.
God, I paint such a negative picture, don't I? I mean, who am I to tell you anything but if my experience is anything to go by — and it's very unremarkable — finding the time, let alone a way of turning that energy into something more than a minuscule side-hustle is a lot harder than you think.
Does that mean you shouldn't try? Hell, no! And in fact, as I've opined many times, we're not in control. If that's the way the cookie crumbles — i.e. we've no choice because we're in love with our Art — then go for it. But please don't forget, as well the assiduous, daily routine that you're told to deploy, make a space for you, your loved ones and just to live.
Seriously, though, I love the fact that we can explore our Art, in whatever way that shows up, and have a million and one outlets to share our thoughts, actions and results. But please don't be too disappointed if you don't reach the dizzy heights of those you admire — even from beyond the grave (Bukowski in my case).
Have a wonderful day.
PS. Here's one of my favourite artists on Instagram, Adam Riches. He doesn't exclusively draw with a ballpoint pen but those are the pieces I like best.