I am not, in our family, the bringer of bacon, winner of bread. That duty falls on my wife. Even before I was a stay at home father, taking care of a couple of tiny monsters, my wife FAR outperformed me financially. This was due to a combination of hard work (I used to be VERY lazy), an incredible education (I have two degrees, but none of them make me a doctor) and a dedication to willpower in every aspect of her life beyond anything I’ve ever seen. My wife is, for all intents and purposes, one of the greatest people I’ve ever known. Full stop. Don’t tell her I said that. She’ll get an ego.
And obviously, as a man, this hit me in the feels for a while. I’ve since come to terms with the fact that there is no rhyme or reason to why men should be the primary earners except that we’ve made it incredibly difficult to do otherwise. It’s not entirely my fault. I was raised in the country. This was one of just a few areas where “conservative” was an understatement. But I think the real eye opening moment came when I began to believe and understand a mantra of sorts, that I’ve shared with clients over the last couple of years. You…Are Not…Your Pay Cheque.
I work with a lot of creatives who work on the side. They’ve got day jobs working for various agencies and firms and grocery stores and coffee shops. They make enough to get buy with their day job, in some cases enough to be comfortable and then they make enough to pay for expenses and equipment and maybe the occasional treat. But many of them, if they were ONLY doing art and ONLY at the rate they’re currently selling would be, at best, scraping by. But here’s the thing. You…Are Not…Your Pay Cheque.
There are a couple of important points here. First, if you want to make more money on your side hustle, you have to hustle. This means maybe a little less Daredevil Season 2 and a little less gin and tonic and a little more late nights making magic happen. Now for some people, they don’t want to. They don’t want to turn their art into a job. Maybe it’s because then it seems like work or maybe it’s because then they HAVE to succeed and they’re not sure if they can. But some people are perfectly happy doing just a little. But those people think that because they’re not selling a LOT of work, their work is not valued and, by extension, neither are they. It’s just not true.
The second part to realize in all this is that making a money, doing anything that’s new to people, is hard. Your work is new. If it’s not, you’re not an artist. You might be inspired by this man or that woman and your work might resemble the work of him or her but your work is YOUR work and NO ONE creates YOUR work. There are examples of artists who push this idea to the limit and then there are artists whose work is within a certain creative category but it’s still NEW.
The third part of this is that your art and sales are not connected. There are people who sell a lot of really shitty pieces of art (I know, it’s subjective…but seriously…) and there are artists who make the most beautiful work I’ve ever seen and they hardly sell anything. Life is hard, yo.
I get that you need to pay bills and that the power company doesn’t care that you’re “working on a new process” and your insurance company is not interested in “your newest portfolio piece.” But that does not mean that you are worthless because your work is worth less than you’d like it to be. You…Are Not…Your Pay Cheque.
Oh, and once you’re making a fortune, remember that…because it still applies.