When to make art your work?

Photo by Keenan Beasley / Unsplash

How much are you actually supposed to like your work? I mean, after all, it is work right. Yes, you might not hate it. Yes, you might feel you are meaningfully contributing. But I'm sure there will be times you go "eh, this is not the most interesting thing in the world?"

Like many of you, I'm at a stage in my life where I'm trying to find the most "me" suitable path to financial independence. The two broad paths that I often think about are:

🧑‍🎨Making a particular hobby or art form (done for personal happiness) your work.

🧑‍💼Getting a reasonable job where you have to trade time for money — something you like and you are satisfied with. Then using that income to earn some passive income — either by investing or solving a problem for society by becoming an entrepreneur. In this second framework, art is only done for personal happiness for a few hours a week.

If you have something you consider "Art" — Can you/ Should you make it your work?

Art = Work?

"Focus on the verb, not the noun" (quote from Austin Kleon)

I feel the greatest risk to putting your artwork/ hobby out there is that you might start focussing too much on becoming an artist and pleasing others rather than actually performing the art. For example, if you make music, you might get overwhelmed by the appearance of your latest album, catering to a particular "niche", or promoting things on social media — things that are secondary to the art itself. The same thing applies to writers, singers, filmmakers, and anyone who does anything that they consider to be an art form/ hobby. It's so easy to get distracted that even if you do something you love, you need a constant reminder to remember that it's the art that matters at the end of the day. And it's the act of performing the art that gives you happiness.

If you're able to actually focus on the verb, consistently perform some art that makes you happy and share it with others — and the "others" end up liking it enough to pay you for it —only then "can" you make art your work.

But even if you "can", should you do so?

I feel this is the more subjective part of the decision (in my head at least). However, the question I feel everyone should ask themselves is the following:

"Do I lose my freedom/happiness in the process of creating art for others (charging money)? "

If the answer is no, then it's a solid yes.

But if it's a yes or a maybe, it really depends on the specific trade-off involved.

In that case, try to figure out whichever side edges it.

Not making Art your work

Art != Work

In his decade-long journal book, Derek Silvers talks about the lifestyle of the happiest people he knows:

  1. Have a well-paying job.
  2. Seriously pursue your art for love, not money.

There is no point in striving for making art your work when you can actually be happier and closer to financial freedom by having a balance between the two in your life — this is the reality for most people (and trust me it's great!).

Additionally, the reason I feel this division works is because it gives you a balance between doing something you love and making sure you can easily deal with the money problems life throws your way.

The main obstacle: Self-control (Derek Silvers - Hell Yeah or No)

This division might have been easy to achieve before smartphones came into the picture. But now with so many distractions how often do we really end up pursuing art during our free time and forgetting about work/ studying — during our free time.

"Your main obstacle to this amazing life will be self-control. You’ll need good time management to stop addictions like social media and video-watching, and make your art your main relaxing activity. You’ll need good mind management to not think of your job after you leave the office."

If you liked this article, I would really appreciate if you could subsribe to my newsletter or share it with others!

Aryan Khanna

Aryan Khanna