This last month has been a very reflective time for me. I have been thinking a lot about the scale of my creative endeavors.
To be clear, creative enterprise or not, mine is a common situation: A guy opens a bike shop because he loves riding bicycles along the beach. A year later he is spending 12 hour days in a tiny fluorescent lit office in the back of his bike shop filing reports to the state for sales tax he has collected from people who still get to ride bicycles along the beach.
Creative endeavors seldom scale well. Scaling requires the hiring of many others to do the job that you yourself love to do. I can only record one song at a time. I can only design one logo at a time. Don't get me wrong, I never set out to scale up and conquer the world. I love the diversity of many creative challenges, and love getting my hands dirty solving them. The ultimate size of my empire was never a consideration going in. But enough about the size of my empire.
I have worked very hard to earn the respect of my clients over a long period of time. I am proud of the depth (and breadth) of the portfolio I have built. Still, I have been spending more time analyzing my course. In the last few years I have brought in more and more help to take on various portions of my work. In many cases, the project benefits from the team effort. Some of the people I have brought on have tremendous gifts in areas that I am only moderately gifted. (Come-on, this is my blog, you don't think I would admit that I have any deficiencies, would you?). But other times I find myself reworking an entire project to get it where it needs to be.
This might indicate poor leadership on my part. (Careful Paul). I didn't say weak leadership- I have been accused of being too rigid or not giving a long enough leash to let people thrive. Still, when I am sitting in my office writing proposals all day, or analyzing numbers while pricing complex projects, I sure miss the good old days of putting a microphone in front of a guitar.
DO ARTISTS GRACEFULLY AGE?
Is this just part of growing up? If I look at older artists, do I think "What a loser. He should get a real job"? Or do I think "There is a guy who still enjoys what he does". Am I doing a hobby for a living? If so, is there anything wrong with doing a hobby for a living? The guys in my model railroad club don't think so, and they are perfectly balanced individuals. I am not actually in a model railroad club. I am also not ashamed to admit that I built this little N Scale beauty on the right.
I HEART MY JOB
While I consider all this, I am careful to remember that I am very blessed to be able to create for a living. I feed my family, drive with the roof down, and pay for my own healthcare. Even if I do transition one step away from the canvas, I still get to breath it in every day.
I still love my job.