When will you get a real job?
“A case-study of our first year as full time artists”
Introduction: If you can do it today, don’t wait for tomorrow
I can’t help but to ask myself: What makes a job more or less real? Either you have a job or you don’t. As far as I know, it’s impossible to have a fake job. Perhaps the only thing I can imagine to fall under such a category would be if you get paid under the table. Then you have an unofficial job, which technically could be considered an “unreal” job.
But what if you pay your taxes? You sell products and services to people who need them. Regardless of which niche you’re in, you my friend, have a real job. Don’t let other’s preconceptions of what the term ‘real’ means lead you astray.
Of course I understand that what people mean when they say ‘a real job’, is ‘a reliable job’. A job with a steady income at the end of the month. A job with an official contract. A job where you have set hours. A job that gives you security in the eyes of society.
Charles and my job don’t fall under any of those three definitions. We’re artists and creative entrepreneurs. I dare to say that if the word “art” hadn’t been included, our job would be considered more real in certain contexts. However, if you work with art in a way that falls under the aformentioned categories of a contract, hours and realiable payment, the game changes.
I’m (as of writing this) a 23 years old artist and creative business owner from Sweden. Together with my Parisian husband Charles, we work to sell our art and teach embroidery worldwide. Had you asked me merely three years ago if I’d become an entrepreneur, the answer would be no. Yet, here I am.
None of us planned that our Instagram (@petronella.art and @_charleshenry_) accounts would go viral. None of us planned that we’d jump on the entrepreneurial wave that threw itself at us. But that’s exactly what we did.
Despite the absence of a business plan, we had an overflow of ambition. Imagine a full cup of coffe. You add some cream to it and the coffee is on the verge to spill over the edge. When Charles and I met, our meeting became the cream that got added to each person’s black coffee ambition.
Charles knew his whole life that he would be an artist. The first time he told me I looked at him with wide eyes. How could he know that? At the time, I thought that an artist was nothing you became. It just happened that a few number of people held exhibitions. However, I never considered how it would be possible to do it for real. And here he was. A handsome French man in his mid-twenties who said that he would spend his life as an artist. Certain as a rock.
What struck me that day, was his ability to ignore what other’s thought of his life’s mission. Of course he would be an artist. He was already an artist as he stood there as a stereotypical skinny Parisian in black clothes and a black hat. Though, I still was’t quite sure of what it meant.
Who is an artist and what does the artist life entail? Is it a real job to be an artist?
This leads me to the two purposes of this book:
1) To provide a real-time case study of a young artist couple who are trying to pave their way through the artistic profession.
2) To question social expectations of what a real job is.
As the attention for our art kept growing throughout 2017 and 2018, I felt an increasing urge to know more. I wanted to learn all the ins and outs of being an artist. I wanted to understand how people make it with art. I wanted to know how we could do it too.
The more I searched, the more I became frustrated. Don’t read this wrong. There are incredible books about artistry and creative entrepreneurship. However, I wasn’t able to find books by others who live it in the present. Who worry of how to make ends meet. Instead, most authors write in a “hindsight” analogy, speaking from experiences of a decade.
From the perspective of imposter syndrome, I can understand why. Because who am I to give advice before I have years of experience and monetary success behind my back?
On the other hand, from an artist’s perspective, why can’t I talk about what I know to be true in the present? Additionally, what does it even mean to be successful? Thus, this book is the result of me listening to my own advice: “If you can do it today, don’t wait for tomorrow”.
I might be more of an expert in ten years. But then I won’t have the authenticity or naivity of a youngster who tries to create her own real job. Furthermore, what I missed the most in my research wasn’t how-to guides. Rather, it was raw case studies and personal reflections of the ups and downs of any entrepreneurial journey. The stress and anxiety to not know if our project and dream will work out. We still don’t know. The only thing we know is that we know a lot more today than we did yesterday.
This book will not give you a recipe for how to make it as an artist. But it will give you an understanding of how it can be done in the modern time of social media. We didn’t fall into online business when the internet was new. Or when you still had to go to the library to look for information. We began in the midst of the social media revolution. Thousands of people join Instagram on a daily basis. Hundreds of new potential competitors enter the market each week.
We all have access to the same tools and information for free. But why do some make it and others don’t? I think the ones who make it are the ones who are able to get passed the fear of not having a real job. Those that dare to go against the stream. Those that are strong enough to show up and be persistent despite online critics and haters. They are the ones who have a chance. You’ll most likely never be able to do anything great without being criticised.
If nothing else, I hope this book will give you the courage to begin today instead of tomorrow. You don’t have to have it all figured out. It may well be in your favour if you don’t. Have the courage to believe in the realness of what you do. Dare to stand up for your vision. Lastly, be bold enough to say no to anything that might throw that vision off track.
Are you going through the same phases as us? Do you recognise yourself as you flip the pages? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your reflections at [email protected] . Alternatively, write your thoughts in the feedback section over on Charles and Elin Academy for everyone to take part of the conversation!
Also don’t miss to access the audio version on your Charles and Elin Academy account. Upon purchase of this book you’ll have access to the full audio version for free.