There have been a couple of things on my mind that I want to see if it makes sense. I think it makes logical sense to me, but others might feel differently.
When does something stop becoming so much of a hobby and something you get paid to do?
When does a favor becomes something that I have to do because I don’t have enough experience?
When does projects just are projects and if something happens because of them then great?
Everything that I’m about to talk about is the classic chicken and the egg scenario. However, this one is sorta different than the traditional route. The traditional route tells us to go to school, get a degree, we find a job that represents what we did in college and automatically we are paid decent money, depending on the type of job and so on. Still, even though we technically don’t know what we will be doing on a day to day basis and have a possibility that our majors aren’t going to be used the way we thought that they were, we have no real experience for the job. But, they still pay us. Over the next couple months and years we gain the experience and our pay increases. This is what everyone sees as the correct route to professionalism.
Okay. Here is another thought. Not the typical one, just different. Either you do come out of school with some art degree or you find your true passion of art through the job that you do full-time, you nonetheless know what you are doing. You use every chance that you can to read, learn and apply. You try different techniques, you buy a couple of equipment to help you on your mission, you simply do stuff for friends and family to gain the experience. Then you finally get to the point that you want to do this very thing to support yourself. You put a couple of things together, you make a website and you tell the world that you are setting up shop. Still, there is something missing here and it is obvious to you and all of the other people who know what you are trying to do: who has actually paid you to do anything? Again, you begin to wonder if you are good enough and you start to second guess yourself and now you don’t know what to do.
Then you start to think about what the hell you are trying to accomplish. You wonder if the type of work you are doing is even considered a profession. You go to work each and everyday thinking of the thing people see your love, passion and dedication in. People constantly ask you how is work, but don’t ask you about what constantly brings a smile to your face every fuckin time. Then you wonder what really is professionalism. What the hell is it, what does it mean. Well, it means the expected skill of a profession. The profession sets the criteria and everyone follows it. Still, lets go back and think of all the work you have put in to this very thing you didn’t even go to school for. Hours, can even possibly count the days and the money spent to just get better. But who will pay you? Because, now you are seeing a benefit of what you are doing. You are seeing that you bring some type of smile to a person or whatever the reason.
I’m going to change this around and all and talk about projects. Projects are things that you don’t necessary do for money. You have an interest, you think about how you are going to go about it and you make it happen. You might even spend some of your own money and defiantly your time to make the project that you envisioned. Again, you weren’t doing this for the money. And you were able to gain some experience before that you didn’t have and can use for the future. You may even have thought of another direction you can take in order to generate work that you would like to get paid to do, you can use it as your portfolio, isn’t that cool. Besides, projects have a way of building up confidence.
Remember, you have already developed a website, thinking of ways to market yourself to the public around you. But there is still the thought of thinking you aren’t good enough and nobody wants to pay you for your ‘pretty pictures’. You are still being hounded to do more free work. And when it comes down to the real issue it is that they don’t value your work. Sure the feeling that your work to people, especially the ones you know, isn’t good enough and they just don’t want to pay for it, for whatever the reason(s).
So how do you make it work with this new discovery? How can you generate anything when it isn’t even valued from people close to you? Well, find the people who do value your work, who wouldn’t mind supporting you by buying a print in a nice frame, who would want to hire you to do a portrait shoot and an interview to get their name out there in whichever field they want to go in and to simply find the people who aren’t your friends and family who find your work worth it to work with you and pay you for a skill that you put your heart and dedication into.