Most people I know and even a lot of artistic people on the internet, just don’t talk about making money. Artists especially so. Just about everyone I’ve ever know who was an artist has always said, at some point in their life, “I just want to make art, I want to create. I would pay people to let me work on their titles because that is how much I want to do it.” Is this in our best interest?

This comes from a natural desire of all creative people. Really, all humans have built into us a desire to create. When we share those creations with others who like what we share, we lift ourselves up and we make others happy. This work of creating and sharing is worth more to us than any dollar amount you could associate with it. You’ve heard the term ‘money can’t buy happiness’. Doing what you love to do makes happiness. This is the foundation of the reason we create.

I used to think that as long as I was creating I would be happy. And I was happy. In fact I found more and more ways I could create by paying money: go to school, learn from other great artists, and work on jobs for free. I had been through school and I tell you, I was pretty naive. I put so much time into the schooling and learning the things that were part of the curriculum so I could get a piece of paper that would help me get a job, I never asked, “Why do I have to do this?” I didn’t ask that question because I thought I knew the answer, “I have to get this diploma to get a job.”

Well, the money ran out, the school was over. No job. I continued to look at other schools who offered better programs, and better job opportunities. And I thought, if I could have only afforded that school, or if I had gone there, I would be in much better shape. Maybe I still can. Lots of regret. The few freelance jobs I could pick up here and there took too much time to do. Not enough pay, and no guarantee of work later on. And because of so much financial problems I was having I couldn’t even think about being creative, which hurt getting more freelance work.

Well, after Erin and I got married, we used all our wedding cash to pay one month of rent. We were sitting on the floor of our empty apartment and eating a pizza that we used the last  $7 in our name to buy. I knew I had to put all that education I had into practice and try to get a job making art if we were going to survive.

So what did I do?

Well, I did a pretty crazy thing. I went back to school. Can you think of anything more insane? But this time, before I did, I looked at what people were doing to make money with their art. and I found this world of ‘desktop publishing’. So I took 4 (1-hour) classes at the technical college. The class was REALLY basic and I realized quickly, I had NO COMPUTER SKILLS what-so-ever. But one thing stuck out to me. On one of the halls of the school, there was a type-written note that read:

“The difference between a fine artist and a commercial artist is that the commercial artist gets to eat.”

This changed my entire outlook on art and money. Instead of creating things just for the joy of creating them for myself, I can create art for others using my talents and those people will give me money. I liked that idea! So right then I decided I am not going to FORMAL SCHOOL anymore. I am going to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get a job working for people who will give me money instead of me spending all my money to learn things that were taking my money away. I resolved that if I was to learn anything else, someone was going to take the skills I had, and PAY ME to learn anything else I needed to know.

If you are taking notes for your business, here’s the CLIFF’S NOTES VERSION:

Money coming out of your pocket = You get poor.
Money coming into your pocket = You get rich.

I used to come from an expression of, “I don’t care about the money. I just want to create.” And ultimately, if you do it right, that is where the heart thrives. BUT when you are struggling to find your next meal, you have to do everything in your power to think outside-the-box that society has made, so that you can continue to do the things that make you happy. Scrounging for food didn’t make me happy. Wrestling with freelance jobs didn’t make me happy. Guess what did? Creating useful art and getting paid made me happy.

It only took 1 year and I got a job that paid me to learn everything I needed to know and a WHOLE LOT MORE. It probably would have happened within 2 weeks of making that resolve instead of a whole year, if I had not needed to learn a very valuable lesson first. But that’s another story.

What’s your story? Are you living your dream job? What makes you happy?