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Why I Am Not An Artist

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veggie

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*I posted this in my blog, and I like how it turned out, so thought I'd post it here :)


I was an art major in college. During my third year, one of my TAs, whom I loved and greatly admired, told me that while she thought my work was very innovative and skillfully executed, she felt it was mostly decorative. Meaning that it had no real deeper meaning or purpose other than to be nice to look at. And initially I thought, "What a crummy thing to say!" but also immediately knew deep down that she was right. My entire methodology centered around, "What would be a neat thing to do?"

But there is definately a market for that kind of work, so I thought, "That's what I'll do." I started making woodblock prints and printed greeting cards, working a part-time job on the side for stable income, and going to school part-time. And I did fairly well. People liked my work and they bought it, so I kept making it. It was fun at first, and quite an ego boost to have people pay for what I made. But after a couple of months I dreaded going into the studio every day. I felt like I was producing, not creating. Instead of thinking, "What would I like to make?" I started thinking, "What would people like to buy?" And I hated it. It became as boring and meaningless as any corporate retail job I'd ever had. So I quit. And I dropped out of school, for that and other reasons. I decided I never, ever wanted to do art for a living again.

I went to cosmetology school and got a manicurist's license, and I never looked back. I feel this job couldn't be more perfect for me. When I go to work I'm not just doing my clients' nails. For the hour or two that they spend with me I am their friend, their counselor, their confidant. And when a client leaves my chair they feel ten times better than they would leaving any therapist's office. They come in tired and overworked, and they leave feeling totally renewed. And that cannot help but rub off on me. I leave work at the end of the day tired, but completely satisfied. I also get to use my talents when I do nail art. I love seeing the delight in my clients' eyes when I paint their boyfriend's name on their toenail with a teeny tiny brush, and then hearning when they come back in about how much he loved it. I love painting delicate flowers on a bride's nails for her wedding. Totally decorative, but so much fun! I love the feeling of being appreciated. Valuable. Something I never got working at Sears, or Safeway, or even as an artist.

When people ask me what I'm doing now and I tell them I'm working as a manicurist, most respond with a sad little sigh, especially those who knew I went to college for art. I think most of them assume that this is a job I simply settled for so I could pay the bills. They assume it's hard work (it is) with little reward and bad pay. Nothing could be further from the truth. My job is SO rewarding to me, and best of all I make more than *twice* what I ever have in any other line of work. It doesn't really get any better than that!
 

Sassy Hassy

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Hi Veggie - you seem to have found true happiness!! My 18 year old daughter looks down her nose at me as I used to be in a VERY well paid job with loads of perks ... but I hated it. Best thing I ever did was get out of the rat race and do something I truly enjoy. Funnily enough I always wanted to be an Art Therapist, and I guess in a funny way that's what I am - someone whose job is an art and acts as a therapist to their clients!
 

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