Why Make Art Your Job?

art versus artist meme featuring art made in 2020 by kelci d crawford

I got this question a lot (surprisingly) in the before times. The people who asked this the most were either teenagers trying to pick a career path, or concerned parents asking on behalf of their teenagers. The thing they asked the most was, “Why make drawing your job?”

“Wouldn’t you get tired of drawing then? I thought the reason you make art was for the joy of it? Why take out the joy and make it a job?”

In the past, I would use an argument from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Fear.” In one chapter she says that every job has a unique flavor of “shit sandwich.” It’s just a matter of what flavor of shit you want to put up with.

But I have to walk back this assessment. (Even though it is a very good book).

It seems to me that the real problem here is how you – the person – choose to approach how you view work. By work, I mean the job that you do.

Some folks see work as a means to an end.

They’re there for the paycheck. They may not get a sense of accomplishment or fulfillment from it – or if there ARE those feelings, they’re short-lived. Those feelings are not why the person does the work. For these folks, they find fulfillment elsewhere. At least, I HOPE they do.

But some people (like me) want to work in jobs where our skills can shine.

We want to work in a path where our effort goes appreciated by people. We don’t want to work at any other job, especially jobs where we feel like just another cog in the machine.

I know I’M not keen on working at a job just for the paycheck. I want to put my skills to use. And I want to really polish up the skills I have.

And yes, one of those skills is drawing. And I LIKE making money with drawing. It feels good to know that my training and practice have a (usually literal) payoff.

For me, it brings me joy to know that I can use my skills to make art and get paid for it. I don’t mind monetizing my ability to make art because I GET TO MAKE ART AND FEED MYSELF WITH MY SKILL. WITHOUT having to work at a job just for the paycheck.

I’ve had to supplement my paychecks in the past, but I make it a point to make sure the work I do is work I enjoy. And I enjoy work that puts my skills to use, and that make me improve.

I hope this gives some clarity for the young folks out there.

Thank you for reading. Keep making art.

You. Are. Awesome.

Skeleton Fiddler – A Commission

I drew this skeleton fiddler as a commission for someone last month. I think he turned out well!

I drew this entirely digitally, on Clip Studio Paint. It’s my program of choice, because PhotoShop is a hard drive hog and CSP is much smoother and easier to manage.

Shadow Man – A Sketch

a black and white marker sketch of a pure black being with ghost white eyes in a robe. The robe has detailed borders on the sleeves and bottom.

I drew this Shadow Man sketch back in 2015. I THINK I used Sharpies, but it’s been 5 years since I drew this. So I don’t remember. But this was drawn in a Strathmore sketchbook, which is my sketchbook of choice. I just prefer spiral-bound papers. Things that lay flat make me happy.

The motif of a pure black shadow being with white eyes happens A LOT in my sketchbooks. Part of this is because I’ve been inspired by the Heartless in Kingdom Hearts for a long while. I dig the monster designs in that series. (Then again, I like drawing monsters. Obviously.) And when I was a teenager playing that game for the first time, the image of a pure black shadow with creepy, pale eyes burned its way into my subconscious. It’s haunted me ever since.

But I also REALLY like adding details to costumes, like border designs. (Like the ones in this illustration). If I ever see zentangles, or Eastern European costumes, or Islamic patterns, I am ALL OVER those. What can I say? Patterns are fun.

So I sketched this to play with high contrasts: black and white, simple and detailed. It was fun to draw!

…I want to draw more things like this, actually. Maybe I’ll make it my Inktober theme? (Holy heck I need to pick a theme for Inktober this year. I keep waffling between several good ideas).

BUT I WILL say – this sketch could be considered a proto-Mocktaw.

Mocktaw are the black shadow creatures from The Legend of Jamie Roberts. It’s my weekly webcomic about a genderqueer pirate and friends adventuring in a land full of dragons. If you like this guy and want to see more like him, check out the comic.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Krampus: A Sketch

Today’s sketch: Krampus!

I drew this back in 2017 to play with shadows and composition.

Now this is available on my shop – $10, free shipping during September!

Check it out at kelcidcrawford.storenvy.com.

This is part of a celebration I’m doing called Sketchtember. Everyday this month I’ll post a new sketch for sale on Storenvy. Each sketch will be $10 (with free shipping). So support an indie artist and the post office!