“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”
-Jerome K. Jerome
I work for myself — I am the boss and the employee. And so do you.
I have to set hours for myself as the boss, and I have to work those hours as the employee. It’s though. On top of this, I have to create stuff and have vision for the future. I’m the CEO and the factory worker in the business of “me.”
It’s exactly the same for you.
Your “pay the bill” activities are done by the employee, and your “creation/art” activities are done by the CEO in the business that is you.
We each work as the employee and the CEO to varying degrees in our lives. Some of us have a job and so the employee gets more hours (and brings in the loot). Some of us spend less time as the employee and more of our time on our art as the CEO (like the starving artist).
This is the struggle between the employee and artist that we all have inside of us. In my experience, our society is one that aims to quell the artist as a means to bring out the employee because it is more suitable for the job/career setting.
And that is a shame.
Some of you are in touch with the artist side of your being, and some of you have been stifling your creative side since middle school when “being creative” went out of fashion because it wouldn’t help you get in college.
In fact, I bet the majority of people that work for someone else in a job/career setting rarely tap into their inner artists. It’s rare a job calls for embracing your inner artist.
“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” -Pablo Picasso
Many of you will probably say you work a lot. Most of us are always “busy” running around doing “work.” But just because you go to work for 8 hours a day does not mean you work 8 hours. For many of you, this kind of “work” is not work at all, it’s just having a job.
Work is creation. Work is passion and intensity of focus. Work hangs on your couscous and subconscious mind. Work is making progress on that idea that you scribbled down on a napkin. Work is building something that needs to be built. Work is leaving something behind for future generations. Work is making a difference.
The right work is art. All other work is a job.
Work is progress on the things you are passionate about. Everything else is task completion, and that is called a job.
We all have work inside of us. Maybe you know exactly what your work looks like, maybe you don’t. Maybe you are secretly writing that novel in your spare time, maybe you need to start. Maybe you are still trying to figure out what your life’s work is. No matter your situation, you must find your work. What you will leave behind?
Find your art.
Your art can be anything. You are not confined to paintings, sculptures, music, or performance. Your art might be changing lives through your social work. Maybe it is planting that garden or starting that club. Your business can be your art.
The only thing needed to create art is passion.
Some of us are fortunate enough to get paid to work our art; most are not. Either way, we can all work our art. Monetary incentive should be an afterthought for your art. Maybe one day your art will pay you, but if it doesn’t you shouldn’t care because you are expression your passion and that is reward enough.
So many of you are stifling your passion and not working your art because you have let other things get in the way. And to that I say: bollox.
I believe that working your art is necessary to living a fully actualized and happy life. It’s that freaking important. We all have passions we must pursue. This is part of being human. If you give them up for something else, you will pay the price.
What is your work? What are you passionate about?
First, you must figure out what your art looks like. My art has many facets: building my website, writing articles and books, recording videos and snapping photographs, and cooking, eating and thinking about food. It’s all creation rooted in what I believe and what I want to accomplish. I work on each of these to varying degrees (writing is at the top).
2 hours that could change your life
For those of you that struggle with working on your art, this is what you should do: Set aside 2 hours and do good art. For 2 hours you will work on whatever is welling up inside of you. No distractions, no agenda, no goal, just do good art.
The format: Go to the library, set a timer for 2 hours, and turn off all distractions — no phone, email, Facebook. Just you and whatever your work looks like: a spreadsheet, a pad of paper to sketch an idea, a keyboard to write, a set of pencils or markers, a hammer and a nail, whatever. Then work for 2 hours straight on something you are passionate about and do NOTHING else during this time. Get up to stretch a couple times but take no more than a couple minutes break and do not engage in any outside distractions. Don’t let anything ruin your flow. Keep your mind in your work.
Try this a few times and you’ll be hooked. If you are struggling to figure out what your art is, this is the perfect way to figure it out. Creation and self-discovery go hand in hand.
The hard truth: If you don’t spend time to work on your art, you are severely handicapping your life, future and happiness. You are not making your mark on the world. You are not leaving anything behind.
You can also apply the 2-hour technique to your job-based work. This will allow you to get what you must get done to pay the bills faster so you can spend more time working your art.
We all have to do a job for money and art for passion. Maybe one day you’ll be lucky enough for them to be the same thing, but until then you will have to do what we all must do: balance both.
You are the CEO and the Employee in the business of You. The balance between these two is a fragile ecosystem that you must tend to. Let either one overtake and you can have problems.
My best advice is to keep your employee work to the bare minimum so you can fill that time with doing your art. Do this enough and one day you might even get paid for your art.
Yours in Doing Good Art,
Founder/CEO, Wild Foods Co
P.S. Watch this speech by Neil De Gaiman: “Make Good Art.”