Whenever someone asks what I’m up to these days, my default answer is that I’m “building my business.”
…and truth be told, I’ve been doing this on and off for more than 25 years.
If you’ve read my other posts, you might know that I’ve been drawing since I was little… and if you don’t know what I’m referring to, HERE’S where you can find out more. The point is that drawing and creating has been part of my life since… well… FOREVER!
I drew on the bus in elementary school, I drew during class (pretty much my whole school career), and I spent much of my time during summer vacation and school breaks drawing instead of going outside to play. It’s what I did.
…and at some point, I got compensated.
I was in high school the first time I really tried to turn my drawings into a job. I saw a storefront that had painted holiday images in the street-facing window, and I thought that looked like something I could do… and with practice, maybe even better. This was before the days of the internet, so I had to go to an art supply store to consult about what type of paint would be good for doing such a project and how to apply (and later remove) a large scale painting… and I left the store that day with a stock of tempera paints, brushes, a palette, and big ideas. I made flyers, I used my friend’s business to do some samples, and I went door-to-door trying to find customers; and at the end of that holiday season I had covered my expenses, made money for Christmas gifts, and even locked in customers who wanted me to return for Valentine’s Day.
I was officially in business.
Of course, I was still in high school at the time and the demands of gas and comic books and clothes required more regular income than just what I could make at the holidays, but I managed to keep that painting business going for a couple of years while I went to school and worked my additional jobs.
Eventually, I moved away for college and I wasn’t able to keep painting windows, but I knew what it was to be paid for my creative efforts and I was sold (literally). Over the years, freelance projects became a standard because I could do it from anywhere and fit it into my work/life schedule… and in the process I developed new skills, made new contacts, and learned what it is to manage a business.
So it is now, all these years later, that I’m pursuing this work fully. I’m not sure if there will ever be a day when I’ve “built” my business, but at this point I’m pretty content in the process. I like that I am constantly challenged to explore and grow creatively and that I get to share my work with new people and that I continue to get compensated for doing a thing that I love. I also don’t know if this will ever get bigger than it is now, but my ability to do meaningful work outweighs my desire get rich.
…and I still know how to use tempera paint if someone has a window that needs to be decorated.