Art is Work

Art is Work


Art is Work

Creating art is a valid career.

There seems to be this perception in our culture that art is not really a profession but more of a hobby. That creativity is a pastime, not a true vocation.

It’s no secret that many of us see our day jobs as monotonous, boring, and something that we only do because we may need rent money.  According to this worldview, art is optional but work is not — therefore art cannot be work.

Our culture tends to believe that creating art or music is something that is only reserved for those lucky few who, for whatever reason, have too much time on their hands. In other words, being an artist is not a real job.  It is only for misfits or those who would not otherwise be able to function in polite society.


Art is Work

Being a creative artist is a worthwhile purpose.

Even though we seem to live in a world that is dominated by the bottom line, there is still a need for the artists and poets to show us its beauty and meaning.  To be that voice that reveals the larger picture that surrounds us, and to remind us how we are all connected to one another.

Just as there is a need for religious and spiritual leaders in our community, there is also a need for artists.  Those who’s purpose is not to make us speed up and work faster, but to slow down and notice the beauty that is already around us.  Artists who allow us to step outside of ourself and experience the world from a new perspective.

Creative artists are also there to remind us that there are still things out there that cannot be easily counted or neatly packaged inside a cardboard box.  Things that we may not always understand or even enjoy.  Things like love, jealousy, beauty, and pain.  The kind of things that keep us up at night with excitement or fear.  Things that still matter even if you will not ever find them on an expense report.


Art is Work

Creating art is (hard) work.

Although being an artist may be worthwhile and rewarding, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy.

Anyone who has ever actually tried to paint a picture, play a song, or write a novel knows that creating art is often a lot harder than it looks.  It is often a long and frustrating journey between knowing how to do something, and being able to do it well.

At the beginning, every artist secretly believes that he or she will be the exception.  The prodigy. The outlier. That one-in-a-million person to whom it just comes naturally.  We want to believe that artists are inspired by divine breath.  That images, words, and music appear fully formed inside our imagination and our job is to simply reproduce what we see or hear.   [viralpullquote box_position=”right” font_size=”13″ width=”205″ ]Work inspires inspiration. Keep working. If you succeed, keep working. If you fail, keep working. If you’re interested, keep working. If you’re bored, keep working. ~Michael Crichton[/viralpullquote]

We don’t want to believe that the experience of creating art is often messy and full of mistakes along the way.  We don’t want to believe that even the best artists may not understand where their work is heading until its finished. And we don’t want to believe that our creative vision will almost always exceed our ability.

We want to believe in the magic of being an artist, and we are often disappointed by the reality.

Being an artist is not about lightning bolts of inspiration.  Being an artist is about being willing to listen closely and then doing your best to describe what you find.   More than anything, however, being an artist is about not giving up.


Art is Life

Even though art is meaningful and often hard work, it’s also more then that.

Creating art is not simply another job.  Even if we are lucky enough to earn enough money from our art to financially support us, being an artist is not just what we do — it’s who we are.  It’s that little nagging voice inside that compels us to create. The one that won’t take “No” for an answer.  No matter how long we ignore it or try to distract ourselves from it, it will still be there whispering in our ear… You were born an artist, now create!

If you have heard its siren’s call, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The only real question, is what are you going to do about it?  What you are willing to give to (and give up for) your art?  Only you can decide if you’re ready to live your art, or if you are willing to let it go.

Being an artist is a choice

Being an artist is a profession

Being an artist is a way of life

But it is also work.


What do you think?

How do you find the time, energy, and stubbornness to be a creative artist in today’s society?

Share your story and tell us how are you are managing to make your art into your work and your life into a work of art?

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About the Author

Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book “Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work” is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.

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