Feel Comfortable With Being An Artist? – When I decided to put my creative foot down on my life and drastically reduce the hours of my day job (to about 2hrs per week!!) I found I had to change my occupation when asked ‘What do you do?' ‘I'm an artist' seems like such an easy answer, it is who I am, what I do, it is everything….. So why do I feel uncomfortable saying it?
I lived in Mauritius for 5yrs. I wasn't allowed to have a job there as didn't have a work visa. Most people lumped me in with the ‘ex-pat / stay at home mum / housewife' category, but as my partner was a native Mauritian I didn't fit in the ex-pat category, I didn't have children and wasn't your typical housewife, there was a genuine interest in me being an artist which was lovely. I used to say ‘I paint' rather than ‘I'm an artist' as I had only just started taking it seriously. I had a considerable amount of time on my hands to work at it, no day job distractions, no cocktails in Manchester at six every evening, no going out burning the candle with friends, no salsa, actually…. not really much else to do, once adjusted, it was great!
So, now I'm back in the UK and have decided I am going to take my new career as an artist seriously… seriously though, what is my problem with saying it? Or is it that people just can't take me seriously? Here's how that conversation usually goes…
Person A: What do you do Liz?
Liz: I am an artist
Person A: What do you do for a living though?
Liz: I am an artist? (Phrasing it as a question slowly in case they didn't get it the 2nd time round)
Short pause (it looks like person A is about to say something annoying to me)
Liz: I paint, make jewellery (I add, to convince them and defend myself)
Person A: Oh, do you manage to make a living at that?
Liz: Erm, well I try!!
Why does this always happen? Is it just me? Do I not have the face of an artist, should I act a little crazy to prove it? I find it annoying that people judge you on your income; does it mean I cannot be something if I don't make bags of money at it? At the moment I am in the volunteering and making the coffee stage of my career, and I love it regardless of the pay.
Not everyone can say they love what they do.
Liz McDonough – Ahem, artist!