Why I Quit My Job to Become a Starving Artist

A month and a half ago I quit my full time job to pursue my own art and live off of freelance to get by and pay the bills. To be clear, this is not a condemnation of the studio where I worked. The team there was great, I loved working with them, and I learned a ton while doing so. The reason I left was not because of a falling out but because the direction I want to go as an artist and the direction the studio was going did not align - I knew that if I stayed I would be stagnating and dissatisfied because I would be sidetracked from creating the kind of art I wanted to be making. So it's been a month and a half and I've managed to scrape by on some small freelance jobs. I'm only barely managing to scrape by and don't know if I'll have work to cover the bills in the next couple months. I haven't felt this good about life in years. The last month and a half has been one of the most artistically satisfying times in my life. There are certainly moments when I start freaking out that I don't know where next month's check is going to come from, but let's be honest, no matter how secure we may feel like our jobs or lives are, we never really know if the ground is going to fall out from under us. I simply have the opportunity to live with my eyes open to the fact that disaster may strike at any moment. Living by faith that I'll survive day by day and week by week is strangely invigorating.

It can be difficult to get by in the video game industry. There are all kinds of horror stories out there about artists and developers with great work being overlooked or taken advantage of during their career. It's important to take time out of all the striving for the dream job and do those things that you enjoy doing. The things that make you happy. Read books. Go see movies with friends. Learn new things that are unrelated to your industry (you will find that even those things inspire you). Stay active and healthy. Play video games. Go to church. Keep practicing and practicing you art, but make time for those other things too. When that dream job does finally come along and the glamor of the new experience fades it will just be a job again. A great job that is amazing and fun, but still just a job.

You may ask, "why did I quit my job to become a starving artist?" It's because I realized I wasn't making time for life. Having been part of a start up company for three years I needed to step away and do some artistic soul searching to figure out what kind of art I really wanted to be making. I couldn't allow my artistic maturation to be driven by projects the studio picked-up.

So what's on the horizon? Well, I hope I won't actually be a starving artist for very long. I plan on spending any down time between freelance gigs on honing my craft and practicing, practicing, practicing so hopefully one day I'll be able to make the kind of art I really want to make. (And get paid for it!) I also want to make a greater effort to live and enjoy life every day. My value and satisfaction as a human being is not derived from what job I have and I want to make sure I keep that in mind.

That's it for now! Look for more art from me in the near future. I may continue writing some of these longer blog posts as well since writing is on my list of things to make time for.

Cheers, and since this is first and foremost an art blog, enjoy this painting I did last weekend.

 

taoOkamoto_paint_02

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