This has been ringing in my head for a week or so. There are several versions of this old rhyme:
“The most common modern version is:
Rich Man, Poor Man,
Beggar Man, Thief.The most common American version is:
Rich Man, Poor Man,
Beggar Man, Thief,
Doctor, Lawyer, (or “Merchant”)
Indian Chief. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinker,_Tailor
Yes, I’m a Wikipedia fan. One can find some accurate information . . . and I digress a little.
Why? Because, really, I chose to be an artist. Just like the person who chooses to be a “tinker” (whatever that is) or a tailor or a soldier or a sailor. Being an artist is my chosen path. I suppose it is especially resonant in light of the things I have heard, since announcing this choice. Things like:
“Why not a real job?”
“Are you any good at that?”
“Perhaps you could get a part-time job in a jewelry store?”
“Have you thought about waitressing?”
“You’re so lucky that you get to ‘play’ all day?”
So, you guessed it, I feel compelled to answer:
YES! Really! Being an artist makes my heart sing on most days and my work IS my contribution to a more loving planet.
Just what exactly IS a “real job”? Do you have any idea what I do all day?
YES! I am good at THIS. As most prominently evidenced by the sales I have made and the evaluations from the classes I teach.
No, [dad], I am not going to work in a jewelry store, for a number of reasons, top on the list is my unwillingness to support a system that sells over-priced, over-hyped, mass manufactured jewelry [not inclusive of small shops with artisans that hand create each piece].
Why yes, I’ve thought about waitressing, grocery clerking, secretarial work, and did work for a time at The Container Store.
I stopped my traditional, educational pursuits several times to be more available to my children and due to some financial constraints. I have no formal degree and am thereby considered unemployable for higher pay positions.
I have physical issues that create challenges even in the work I do now, however, I have greater flexibility.
I raise a teenage daughter involved in school and dance, which means a fair amount of driving, and requires the flex-hours I have created with my work – sort of flex-hours :).
I have been, in my lifetime, a secretary, a restaurant hostess, a waitress (that was kinda funny. If you meet me, ask me about a full tray of six breakfasts, on top of six construction workers) and other assorted “jobs”. I’ve also been a manager and a preschool director.
I have a philosophy about making a living in this world: Do what you love and you will be a well-rounded, centered, happy human, AND the world will be a better place.
There is a great book called “The Element”, written by Ken Robinson, you can find it here: http://amzn.com/0670020478. The essence of his book:
“The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels.”
He talks in the book about the people who LOVE math, science, writing, waitressing, teaching, grocery bagging – honest, there are people that love those things. These are not always ‘the job I’m doing until something better comes along’ – this IS the something better! Ummm I hate math and honestly, if I had the physical stamina at 52 to stand all day, I might consider grocery bagging. I do like organizing things.
So, I AM doing what I LOVE and what I am good at.
YES! I am fortunate that have the opportunity to ‘play’ . . . practice and perfect my craft . . . make pretty things for you to have. That isn’t what I do all day in my busy town.
I have marketing to do, and inventory, and bookkeeping and planning, and driving AND I am a (virtually) single parent, so I am also, cooking and cleaning, and planning and marketing, and driving and bookkeeping :).
None of that was a complaint, by the way.
It is what IT is and I have made my choices and overall I LOVE what I do.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all love and roses and mega sales by any means. I feel challenged when someone steps into my booth and remarks solely about the lighting I have used, or the mirror I have or the sign on my wall, oh and the branches on the wall I use to hang my work. I appreciate that there are those that see the creativite that I am, in how I present myself.
There is the occasional “Oh you’re work is awesome!” which I fully appreciate also – honest. An even better demonstration of your appreciation of my work, would be if you bought it :). LOL
So I’m gonna say it now.
This IS how I make a living. The sales of my work is not only the means to make more, it is also the opportunity to call the repairman when the washer breaks, or the plumber when the drains are way past Drano help, or the pittance I pay to my sweet gardener (because my lawnmower got stolen); or the chance to pay off bills, the occasional movie, a trip to the hair dresser, a new leotard and tap shoes for my daughter, an occasional leg-up to my son, new pants (oh how I could use new pants), a new tire for the car and goodness me, an oil change . . . all of the same things that everyone else wants or needs in their lives with the income from the work that they do.
You’ve heard a lot about “Buy Handmade” I am sure (I’ve posted a lot). There is a lot of prose out there that virtually beats up the potential customer. I hope you don’t see what I have written, and have that impression. I just want to make it clear:
THIS IS MY REAL JOB!
While some may resent me because I do what I love for a living . . . I would only ask – why aren’t you doing what you love? Is there a way for you to work it out? Or somehow, are we all ‘sentenced’ by some invisible force to do things we don’t like, because that is what we are supposed to do. I think we all know people who are sooooooo unhappy – because they are not living the life they want to live.
I am not always happy . . . and that’s an inside job. I can tell you, that when I drive to the Port, the traffic never bothers me . . . it just is. When I drive to the dentist, the traffic makes me CRAZY! Think about that a minute.
So I think I said all that to say, just like anyone that works any where, I am not independently wealthy and being an artist is my ‘job’. For everyone that has said in the last three months “I hope you make it” – I intend to – and could use your purchases to help me do that.
Oh and about my prices. Some say they are high (they don’t buy) others say “I need to have this!” so they do. My prices are my prices and they are based on the cost of materials and some labor . . . that labor of love.
When you see a price on a piece in my shop, please consider the following: I am a one-woman-show, everything you see is made/assembled by me (there are no elves or underpaid workers). While I do not make my own chains, jump rings or clasps . . . I DO create each ‘focal’. I carefully consider what Chinese Chop seems it should be made and what stone should go with it and I roll out metal clay and create each Rune, Chop, Geometric piece . . . each shard of ceramic is picked from a collection I have of vintage cups, bowls and plates (the blue and white ones are “English Scenery” from Wood and Sons, circa 1950). Each piece of dichroic glass is creatively considered. I think, I make, I sand and finish each piece. I might spend hours re-doing a patina until I feel it is just right with those beautiful teals and purples.
The pen casing you may have seen in my shop? That was created by me, and it took two days to get it “right”. The mini-coffee cup . . . that was really a two-year process of love and care, joy and failure, frustration and completion.
The rings I make . . . oooooh . . . don’t get me started on the rings :). Not only do I create each whimsical ring, having considered it’s theme, the media I will add to it – but I see them as mini-sculptures AND I promise, if you take care of it, they won’t fall apart. While they are not an everyday wearable ring, they ARE works of art with a story that you can enjoy and share . . . AND if something happens, I’ll do whatever I can to fix it for you. Ask me the story behind each ring, they all have one.
So the next time you look at any handmade item, consider that someone spent maybe hours, maybe days to bring that to you. THIS IS a real job.
I am oh-so-grateful to share my passion with you all and I hope it brings you joy and for those that have purchased – Thank you! And my car thanks you for it’s new shoe. And for those just able to admire . . . Thank you!
Stop by Crafted and say Hello!
All my best,
Now . . . Go make something . . . you know you want to!