Throughout my time as a professional artist and designer, I have gone through many changes. At first, I was making full drawings for very cheap prices, something like $4 per drawing. Which of course meant that I had a lot of work but at the same time it was probably the time when I liked my job the least. Even though I was proud of how many clients I was getting, the money just wasn’t enough, and several times I considered quitting altogether.
Slowly though I raised my prices, first by increments of $5, and now a drawing cost $10 and I lost a couple of customers, but was still getting relatively good orders coming in but now the money was lasting me a bit more. It still wasn’t enough to pay the bills, buy groceries, and have a good time, but it was more and I felt content with that decision. As the years progressed and life started throwing me into situations where I needed to earn more, I kept raising my prices and losing clients with each price rise. Yes, it was terrifying because at many times the number of clients that would stop contacting me would become overwhelming, but I also noticed that whenever I raised my prices in accordance with the quality of my work; new clients would come in to replace the old clients I had.
This led me to make peace with the process of evolving and losing people. Not just in work but also in life, with friends, and relationships. Every time I would step into a new dimension of myself, a better, more efficient, and more evolved version of myself a lot of people would sort of like fall off. It got me thinking a lot about how in life we have to be able to let go so we can learn to give new things, and at the same time receive new experiences. If I had never raised my prices from $5 perhaps I would’ve ended up quitting art altogether and I wouldn’t be enjoying this wonderful position of being able to confidently say that I make a living from my art. I would have ended up being a miserable person because I would’ve seen my situation from the perspective that I just wasn’t cut out for it, that it was easier to quit than to reinvent myself.
This brings me to my next point. In life, we have to constantly reinvent ourselves, in business, and in everything we do. We need to be in a place where we are open to learning new things, and better ways of doing what we’ve always done. I remember that when I started raising my prices and clients were leaving me for cheaper options, I made the decision (with the help of Erika) to start offering my services to local clients and not just to clients online. I concluded that locally I could do a lot more marketing than I would’ve been able to do in the vast sea of online creators, and looking back this worked very well for me.
I was able to get into several brick-and-mortar stores, and art galleries and even land rather big clients that are still to this day (6 years later) consistently asking for my work, and all because I stopped looking for opportunities in one place, and instead opened myself towards finding opportunities everywhere.
Note the word “finding” I didn’t say I waited and let these opportunities come to me. Waiting is fun when you’re in a chess match or if you’re sitting at the beach watching the waves, but at some point, all that planning, all that daydreaming, and hoping and thinking must be focused and turned into action. At some point, you have to make the check mate, and you have to grab your surfboard and jump into the sea. This activity of going out and looking for opportunities or even yet, making your own opportunities is what has set me apart from several friends, and colleagues. I am not afraid to fail, I am not afraid to be rejected or to be ignored. In fact, I welcome all of these things, because when I fail I learn, and when I am rejected and ignored, I don’t waste my time, I look for a new door to knock on.
Growing me as a freelancer, meant learning business skills, marketing skills, and even learning new skills that I could then turn around and profit on. Things like learning to sew, things like investing, making sculptures, writing books, and being a better salesman. Every new thing I learned I somehow managed to turn it a business venture, even my music which is largely a hobby for me, I’ve been able to make some nice money out of it, and it’s all because I never stood still waiting for opportunities to come to me. I woke up in the morning, grabbed my notebook, and made a plan, and once that plan was laid out with all of its unanswered questions, with all it’s hopes, dreams, and unrealistic expectations, I put on a hat and when out to make those plans a reality. I started calling people that could get me closer to my goals. Exchanged knowledge with others that could give me the tools I needed to reach my next milestone, and most importantly I stayed disciplined and consistent with the work I was putting in.
Some days it was hard, and I wasn’t able to do the amount of work that I wanted. Some days I lost clients, some days I failed miserably, and yet every day I got back up and tried again.
Now I’m not saying that consistency on something that you keep failing at will eventually bring you success, never. Just remember that quote Einstein said:
‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ‘Alber Einstein
No, successes come when you realize that you’re failing for a reason. You sit down and figure out what that reason is and then you reinvent yourself, you reinvent your brand, your product, your services, and your mindset and come back and try again with perhaps the same idea but a whole new twist to it, a whole new look, a whole new mindset. That is when success happens because if you give something all of your energy and you try all possibilities and all permutations of that idea there is simply no way that you will fail, at some point, you will find the right combination of substances to reach your Eureka moment.
This whole art business thing for me has been an ever-constant experiment, a way of finding myself and fulfilling my life’s desires one art piece at a time, and boy are there so many more experiments to make. I remember when I first started living from my art close to 10 years ago. When all of a sudden I found myself payment for my apartment, my wifi, my food, and my utilities all from money that came from making art. I remember that day and I remember both how happy it felt to know that I had reached my goal, and at the same time how sad I felt because that was the only goal I had. That day sparked in me such a desire to continue growing and learning, that now so many years later I have several passive income streams, tens of published books, thousands of worldwide clients, and most importantly hundred of goals still left on my list to accomplish. I know I won’t accomplish them tomorrow, but just like that first goal of being able to live from my art, I know that some day; if I put in the work, stay disciplined and consistent with my effort, do the research, and apply all possible skills I have, I will complete those goals. I also know that when that day comes I will go to my goal list and write 10 more goals to accomplish next. Because being content, still, and passive has and will never be who I am.
Cheers to you and to me, for never stopping. For continuing on our journey and for conquering our goals and making new goals each day.