If you have been reading my blog at all, I’m sure you might be wondering what the heck this crazy woman does for a living. She is all over the place and none of it seems to be connected. Let me try and explain it.
For thirty years I have been a graphic designer. That has taken many forms. I worked for a newspaper as a designer/illustrator, an art director at an ad agency, production artist at a printing company, a freelancer, co-owned a printing company, did sales and some design at another printing company and now am a self-employed designer and print broker. Whew!
But wait! That’s not all! I have also often worked a second job in retail and currently as the office manager at my local community theatre part-time and am also an artist/maker (which is what you get to read about here). I usually sell a few pieces of art each year and get a commissioned piece or two in that time frame. I have an Etsy shop that is slowly growing and bringing in more income. What may be on there when you visit is a changing assortment of my creations. I seem to like to work in everything! I try to narrow it down, but I have creative ADD. I paint, draw, work with glass & metal, fabric, etc. Maybe one day I will limit myself to just three things. I don’t think I can do less than that.
I listen to several podcasts about creativity, art, etc. (I will list those for you soon) and happened to hear one artist explaining how so many of us creative folks survive. She called it “cobbling together” a career. That’s about as good as I can visualize. Maybe the game Tetris would evoke a good visual of that as well. We piece together some crazy mixture of things that suit us and that brings in enough income to allow us to continue along our merry way.
There also seems to be a fierce independence that we are born with that makes it very difficult to work in a corporate world or even just for someone else. It’s not that we are bad employees. Often we are extremely hardworking people. We just work vastly better on our own. It seems we work when others are asleep, either early morning or late at night. We require strange breaks to do odd mundane errands that often give us those “AH HA” moments of insight to solve a problem. We need constant novelty for inspiration so we will be found delving into some new obsession until we have it firmly encased in our brain, only to have it come out as some new version of our art.
It is not an easy way to live. People don’t get it. Especially those people who raise us. They don’t understand why we don’t go to a normal office job with health insurance and retirement plans. We don’t necessarily like living on the edge of disaster where one illness or accident could wipe us out. Those of us who are single are especially vulnerable with only one household income. But eventually, it is either “cobble together” a way of life that gives us a life or slowly disentigrate into depression and illness.
In my strange assortment of jobs over the years I was able to fulfill one very important goal that I do not regret. I was able to be with my kids as they grew up. I’m not sure they were thrilled to have to sit through business meetings at the Chamber of Commerce or help put together dance program books at our printing company for hours on end, but I knew where they were, what they were doing and who they were with. As I sit here now with both of them having recently flown from the nest, I don’t have one second of regret that my choices were not always the most monetarily lucrative. The years passed in minutes and I look at the people they have become and know I did the right thing. I am very proud of those two who have set out to make the world better.
I tried for many, many years to fit into “normal”, but inevitiably I would be miserable which would turn me from an optimistic, cheerful person into a resentful, depressed and short-tempered shrew. Evidently, God got tired of listening to me complain and five years ago, pretty much pried my fingers off the railing of the Safe Ship and threw me into the raging ocean. It was scary, especially with two teenagers to feed, but He also threw me a couple of life savers to keep me afloat until I gained some swimming strength. Since then, I have been the happiest I have ever been.
My cobbled life fits me. It’s not safe, but in this world “normal” isn’t safe anymore either. My life ebbs and flows like the seasons. I have the ability to shift with the winds when necessary. Actually much easier than if I had a “normal” job. Success is not measured in dollars in the bank in my world. It is measured in the satisfaction of knowing I have poured out my talents to the best of my ability every day and that I have not neglected people in exchange for money.