Art for Fun and Profit
why my hobby is a hobby
I have mentioned this in the iFAQ, and I've discussed this countless times before with artists and non-artists alike, but it bears reiterating:
I do NOT enjoy art as a career.
There is a short of this--when we're little, and adults ask us what we want to be when we grow up, no one ever tells you that you'll have to do things you don't like. When I was little, I first wanted to be a cartoonist--an animator, in specific. Later, I learned that not only would I be working long hours and drawing the same thing over and over, I most likely wouldn't get any recognition for it unless I was the next Don Bluth, Chuck Jones, or Peter Chung... and even Peter Chung had to endure countless days working on Rugrats, which he despised [and ultimately used as the counter-inspiration for Aeon Flux].
After my passive interest in cartooning passed, I wanted to be a veterinarian, because I'd get to work with animals. It took me a while to realize, however, I would be working with sick and dying animals... regularly... and even the healthy ones would have to get cut up to get spayed or neutered. My attention drifted to art again, but in the same way I was [and am] interested in video games.
Then I took an interest in computers, which thus became my starting major in college. As I trudged through my classes, though, the problem I had was that I am much more visual, and code drove me crazy, in particular when I couldn't see what was causing an error. At least with basic HTML, an error often has little effect on the final result, if it's not easy to find in the first place.
At the comments of a classmate, I then changed majors to Computer Science, Concentration: Engineering Design Graphics, Concentration: Computer Animation [which is quite a mouthful for "Computer Graphics"]. Despite my budding optimism, I unfortunately treated classes as something I merely endured, as opposed to a valuable learning time. Don't get me wrong, though--I learned enough functional graphic manipulation for my own purposes, but not enough to function well in the workplace.
There was an added problem... or two, rather. First, the computers were slow as molasses, and I lacked patience to deal with them when it took me several minutes to see the effect of my tweaking one item. Second, I have a poor concept of 3D. Every flat or near-flat project I've set my mind to finishing in a given timeframe has been no problem. Yet if I attempt to make a plush toy or costume, my mind blanks easily. The projects I've finished in 3D have predominately been from me sitting there and brute-forcing something until it looks mostly right... I've rarely made something exactly as per my original design.
Given my frustration level, this was clearly not a career option for me, as I'd be on the street in less than a day if I tried. It meant I effectively frittered away my time in college, to be certain, but my parents have been thankfully understanding on the matter, even agreeing that college is a waste of money. [That is, if you don't have a specific goal in college, you're wasting precious job time--even a McJob is better for generating career motivation than never entering the work force until after getting a Master's.]
After graduation, I spent a long time... unemployed... living with my parents. For a while, I tried doing whatever work-from-home jobs I could, like reselling things at online auction. This was actually fairly profitable [for an unemployed person paying no rent and bumming it], but it amounted to well less than minimum wage on its own.
Then I tried going through a friend Tracy Butler and getting freelance contract work for Simutronics Corporation. Over the course of a month, I made $300 and became quite fed up with art-for-pay. Remember what I said about having to do things I don't like?
I even for a while tried whoring out my own artwork, but artists selling their work online are increasingly common, while the paying fan base is diminished in comparison. Remarkably, I've gotten praise for spending five hours on a piece and selling it for $10, not counting $2 for its frame, but dismissive rejection for spending effectively no time to resell a $2 print from another artist for $32... something I still can't wrap my brain around. It's also just difficult trying to deliberately make something that other people will be interested in buying--somehow I can't find topics I like that others like... well, like enough to buy, anyway.
In the end, I am one of those people who simply finds work to be work, so it might as well be EASY work. In the end, I found myself regularly fixing things I found wrong when I went in a store... so I went into retail. Why? I just really have this obsession with fixing things/organizing messes.
...you know, despite my living quarters. I'm talking about where there's an obvious structure.
If I'd thought to study as an English major, perhaps I would have found my calling as an editor... but c'est la vie. Regardless, now you know, so if you manage to read this then ask me why I don't have a career in art, I will cheerily bite your head off. The thing is that people will find out I studied Computer Graphics and fail to understand why I don't want to do more with that, as though working retail for the rest of my life is some kind of failure. Yet a lot of the same people end up unhappy because they are always a step below where they think they will be happiest, instead of finding ways to be happy where they are.
There is nothing wrong with being happy working a middling job, especially when it means that there will always be someone competent in what's a necessary position. Does the world need five million more Picassos or five million more Brad Pitts more than it needs five million more retail workers or five million more farmers, plumbers, construction workers, truckers, or janitors?
I'd hope not. Picassos become much less valuable when they're on every street corner while food becomes a scarce commodity. Maybe I'm not on the "absolutely indispensable" end of the spectrum, but I'm bringing people things they need on a near daily basis, and that makes me happy enough.