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.

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