7 Feelings You Will Only Experience When You Use Your Art to Make a Living

Andy Kelly

Whether you’re a writer, photographer, graphic artist or other type of creative, earning money for your craft can evoke a wide range of emotions. From accomplishment to self-doubt, a lot comes along with building a business out of art. For just a few of the feelings you will or may have already experienced, read on below.


It takes a certain type of person to bare their soul for the world to see. And make no mistake about it, while using your creative talents to earn a living may sound like a dream, it is certainly not without struggle. After all, true art demands authenticity. It requires that you show up fully in a way that can often leave you feeling raw, open and fully exposed.


At times, creating for a living will feel far different than it does when creating for yourself. After all, when it comes to business, things can’t solely be on your terms. Worry that you’re “selling out” or not being true to your art is a battle countless creatives have to face from time to time. However, it’s important to remember that using your talents in any capacity to feed your family or build a better life is never something to look down on.  


There’s no example of validation quite like that of the compensated creative. Having the chance to finally make a living doing what you love is rewarding in a way that lacks proper explanation. It brings all of your hard work (especially that which was originally done for free) into perspective, and reminds you once and for all why you chose the path you’re on. However, it’s also a feeling that must be kept in check. Basing your worth, or in this case, the worth of your art on the opinions of others is a slippery slope. It promotes a sense of pride that can only be grasped through the external, making it both exhausting and impossible to sustain.


Experiencing validation for one’s work can ironically inspire a sense of trepidation in even the most confident of creatives. Why? Because once your art makes you money it’s no longer just your art, it’s your living. With that reality comes a slew of dis-ease surrounding whether or not you can keep it going.  Questions like “Can I really to do this?” and “Will I stop enjoying my art?” may even start playing out in your head. After all, you’ve likely never had to associate paying your rent with shooting a photo before. 


For some creatives using your art to make a living means dedicating your entire week to one passion. For others it’s juggling two or three jobs to enjoy just a few hours of doing what you love. Like any other career, art has its disadvantages. So, those in your inner circle who have chosen a more traditional route may not understand why you would prefer something different. They may even view your ability to work from home or make your own hours as code for not actually working. Either way, the trajectory of the creative is incredibly unique- making it both the most enviable and unfavorable career in the world.


Whatever your medium of choice may be, art is your way of showing up to the world. Whether through writing or photography, art allows you a platform to express your individual perspective on everything. It is something you were likely doing far before you were getting paid to do it, and so having the opportunity to be compensated for your voice is just the icing on top of a very special, hard earned cake.  


Cue the happy tears because having the ability to make a living through your art is likely the most satisfying experience in the world. There is a deep sense of pride that comes from trusting yourself enough to trek boldly down a path so many others have shied away from. So go on and feel proud because truthfully, you deserve it.