It’s tough to find the balance between dreams and reality. We want to pursue lives that allow us to make a living doing what we’re passionate about, but we’ve all got bills to pay, we all need places to live, and we all need to eat. Is it worth the financial risk to try making a living off of Etsy or YouTube? Is it worth putting aside creative pursuits for an indefinite time to take a draining, yet financially reliable, job? Or is there some kind of middle ground, where both can be done, but at the sacrifice of sleep or a social life? These are the questions I’m asking myself, as I recently took a forty-hour a week job and have significantly less time on my hands. To be honest, I haven’t found any satisfactory answers yet.
The hard truth is that sometimes we can’t make it work, no matter how passionate we are. But as Aiden wisely points out to me whenever I’m feeling discouraged, we should be pursuing our creative goals because we love them, not because we want to squeeze money out of them. I tend to be very money-driven, partly because of my monstrous mountain of student debt, but mostly because my dream is to be able to work from home with Aiden. Making comics, creating food and travel videos on YouTube, and freelancing to make a living would be the absolute best! But in order to make that dream a reality, my creative pursuits need to be making money to pay our bills and student loan payments. This has been my goal for so long that my pursuit of art has become all about making money and not for the love of my craft.
That realization hit me like a ton of bricks. When did it become hard for me to find joy in my work? When did I stop making art for the fun of it and start making art just with profit in mind? No wonder I get so hard on myself when something doesn’t turn out “perfect”. That mindset really sucks out any joy I had working on comics, and that in turn makes for bad comics.
I resolved to find joy in art again. I started doing fun little art pieces just for me, and for the first time in a long time I indulged in a bit of fanart.
It was so much fun! It felt so good to just PLAY. It brought back a lot of excitement and wonder to my work. I wanted to do more, to see what I could do. What would happen if I played around with layering gradients?
What would happen if I tried out this fun color palette?
Through these exploratory, fun pieces, I’ve been learning a lot! I’ve been exploring different ways of doing things instead of hemming and hawing and trying to make everything look like the work of artists I admire. It’s been refreshing. I’ve found that I like taking chances and trying new things. If a new technique doesn’t work out, that’s fine – that’s probably not the kind of art that I would enjoy making. I need to find a way of making art that I truly enjoy so that it can be a sustainable process for me. There will absolutely be days that I get burned out on making art or comics, and that’s okay. That’s just a sign that my brain (and likely my hand and wrist) needs a break. However, I never want to lose the joy of making art again. I need to dedicate time to having fun and making art for myself as well as for professional purposes.
In order to pursue my dream of becoming sustainable with my art, I’m going to work hard with the limited time I have to start my first webcomic. I’m going to continue working with Aiden on our story-podcast, Lulach Beryl: Magical Intern. When I’m ready, I’m going to make an Etsy shop and sell cute watercolor cards. Aiden and I are working on making food and travel videos around New England for our upcoming YouTube channel. Our newest experiment is a secret for now, but rest assured we’ll update you when more things are ironed out!
I have so many things I want to do, and I need to remember that I have my whole life ahead of me. For now I need to take things at my own pace and do what I can with the time and energy available to me. Someday I might make money off my creative pursuits, or I might not. I need to accept that in order to move forward and create art joyfully.
May you go forth and be filled with joy in whatever you do, dear readers.