When Creative Decisions Are Also Financial Ones - Part Three

a photo of money, growth, retirement

Loving work or not, it is a bit of a race with an endless finish line. As with any product, (which if you sell it-art is a product), making art that is sellable is important. In many cases, it drives your creativity. Yes, this is where some feel that business interrupts creative purity. I would somewhat agree, but not to the point of wanting to starve myself.

I’ve always felt I could achieve a fair and just balance between what I wanted to paint and what people wanted to buy. I always felt, egotistically or not, that if I put my mind to it, that I could paint anything. So, if there were three things I could paint and would enjoy doing so, then why not at least paint the one that would sell? Please remember now, I could write an entire book about that one topic, and so in the format of this blog I’ll ask you simply to pounder those words in a big way, and if taken within the context of parts one and two, their meaning will be apparent.

But here in part three is where the professional artist, now with a lengthy career behind him, and no longer in need of work, must find and reinvent himself once again. I’m nearly 65. Yes, it’s as hard to believe this as when Paul McCartney sang when I’m 64 when I was only 12, and then I hit that ripe old age. Hard work, good fortune, and good luck have brought me to a time when financially I can retire. I don’t have to peddle my creativity anymore, but it is as deeply rooted in me as creativity itself. Turning the switch off to my business mind means I have to find the switch and even if I did find it, do I really want to? Maybe installing a dimmer switch is better suited for where I am in my life right now. Good business practices (I think, fortunately) will never die. But hopefully feeling the everyday need will.

Today, as with many my age, I have all the creative freedom of a child. I can scribble my way through a coloring book if I so choose. But the value of my work is hard to ignore, so how do I now go about balancing the two? I have to admit, I was having a conversation a couple of years ago with a gentleman who knew my work, but who I didn’t know. During our conversation, the topic came up of my having sold my paintings over the last 30 years. Upon hearing this he said, "Wow, thirty years is a long time to have done anything." He meant it in a good way, as to say, that quite a successful run. To be honest with you, while I knew this was the case, I had really hadn’t heard it verbalized in this way and by a person who was successful in his own right.

Now 32 years in, I’ve just completed back to back commissioned paintings and to be honest, both came out of the blue. But with our recent move to North Carolina from Virginia where my fine art career developed and took off, it makes sense that unless I put my mind to it, things in this area will naturally slow. Perhaps this is the best way to let go and slow down. But during the past more than four years, I’ve also expanded my love of writing. In a sense, I’ve been a writer since high school and I’ve, in one way or another, kept it alive, even blending writing with art as a topic for my decade long monthly newspaper article - The Artist’s Perspective. After moving though I decided to bring that to a close as my also developing love for automotive journalism grew. Here again, is where creativity and business meet.

So just as I can see possibly allowing myself to slow my art career, my career or whatever I should call it, as a writer continues to blossom. Still, what has changed are the demands I am placing on myself. I am still an artist and a writer and a business person, but I am also realizing I am someone who also wishes to not put an unwanted burden into the mix. Business is still very important to me, but the pure freedom of creativity is shining a bit brighter.

Live an artful life,

Tom

 

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