A quick small-talk conversation got me thinking the other day. I was cleaning up from a paint party at a pub, and the manager asked me if I was the lady who was teaching paint nights at (insert name of a bar here). I responded with "no, that's not me. I teach lots of places, but there are lots of other people who do this too, it must be someone else."
"Right," he said, "Anything to make a buck right? Ha ha."
"Yes. Ha, that's it... anything to make a buck."
I thought little of it, other than he was just trying to make polite conversation. Days later I keep thinking about that comment. Why do I do what I do? Certainly there are more efficient ways to "make a buck." I can tell you (and so can many of my entrepreneur friends who make their living creating hand-made products like baby items, chocolates, paintings, and home-made decor), there would be MUCH more efficient ways to earn money than to work for hours and hours and pour our hearts and souls into our products, to sell them for only the base of what the public will pay. If you worked out the hours vs. sale price on one of my paintings or glasses, you would laugh at me for doing it! Often the same goes for time in prep, money in supplies, travel, etc. for paint parties. A business coach actually did laugh at me!
That's not the point. I (and those others I'm sure) do what I do because I am truly passionate about it! (I read the other day not to use the word "passionate" on your resume because everyone does, and it has become cliche.... but I can't think of a better suited word!) At 18 years old, when faced with the question "what are you going to do?" I had no idea, except that I MUST do art, because creating is what gives me purpose and meaning and I enjoy it so much. So off to university I went to study art, got my visual art degree, then my education degree, and then taught high school and junior high art for years. I absolutely love sharing my appreciation for art with others, and watching them "get it" as they learn.
Now that I am teaching paint parties instead of school, I am even more in love with my work, as it is on my own terms. I can't say it's easy. I go through constant cycles while creating new art pieces. "They like it", "they hate it", "tickets sell," "tickets aren't selling!"... and each time I feel a personal sense of accomplishment or failure. (I talk to other small business owners and I know this is the behind-the-scenes for so many -including my own husband who runs an equipment company and flip flops between having far too much work and not enough in the changing seasons and economy.) This is the reality, and sometimes I think it would be much easier to "make a buck" by going to work where someone else is boss, coming home, and leaving work at work. Not a chance of that when you run your own business!
Anyway, the point is that I do not make art or teach paint parties only to "make a buck." Sure, I have to earn a living (and it's not, but it helps), but I feel very fortunate that I am able to make a little doing what I love, and sharing it with others. I have an extensive background and education in teaching and art, so this is not a passing craze for me. I continue to take courses now, to grow as an artist as well. Even if and when the paint night phenomena dies, I will not stop creating and teaching. Maybe this sets me apart from others, I certainly hope it does.
To those who, like me, "make a buck" by doing what you love, regardless of the time, energy, and sometimes stress that comes with it..... kudos to you! The rewards are in the process, right? I certainly think so. And to those who choose where to spend their hard-earned buck.... I encourage you to spend it with the small people who do what they love and put their hearts and souls into it!