Almost six years ago, my husband, Tom, chose to sell our business and pursue his long-time creative passion. Being in his late forties, it took guts. He had to give up everything familiar for unmarked territory. Here are his responses to a few questions I threw his way about that move.
Q: What made you decide to change careers?
A: I felt like my first career didn’t have a future for me. I saw the industry change and didn’t have the resources (nor the vision) to change with it.
Q: Why did you choose photography as your new career?
A: It’s simple: I had the qualifications, interest, and the passion for it.
Q: There are many avenues you could have taken with your photography skills, why did you choose the fine art show circuit?
A: I researched other ways to make money with photography (galleries, portraiture, etc.) but felt art shows had the greatest potential for a return on my investment. It also matched my creative gift and aesthetic the best.
Q: What was the hardest thing (a “con”) about changing careers?
A: The fear that I wouldn’t be able to provide a sustainable income.
Q: How did you move past that fear?
A: I just kept moving forward with what I knew to do, and didn’t give up when roadblocks presented themselves. That didn’t get rid of the fear, necessarily, but it minimized it. Forward motion helped me learn what I needed to do next.
Q: What’s the greatest challenge in the art show industry?
A: Jurying into good shows. There are no guarantees from one year to the next that I’ll get invited to a show. A jury scores each artist’s work and invites those with the highest scores. Scores can be subjective depending on who’s on the jury. I need top shows to sustain a good living, so it’s important to keep my work at as high of a standard as I can. Along those lines, finding time to get new shots amidst the busy show schedule can be hard. Thankfully, we sometimes do shows in inspiring places so that I can build in a day or two for the creative side of my work. But I could use more time for that.
Q: What’s been most surprising (a “pro”) about this career?
A: The encouraging environment at the shows. The reception of my work always surprises me.
Q: What do you love about this new career?
A: Watching people connect to my work and seeing them value one of my pieces enough to buy it for their home. It’s an honor.
Q: What advice would you give to someone contemplating a career change, or making money from a creative pursuit?
A: It’s not easier than any other career. You have to work hard to make it, but for me, it’s far more enjoyable. The fact that I can do what I’m passionate about, and make money from it keeps me going. I work more hours now than I ever did, but it doesn’t feel like work. I love what I do, and I couldn’t always say that before.
Q: Anything else?
A: It’s a journey, not a destination. You have to be flexible along the way and use criticism as a tool to grow rather than fuel to terminate your dreams.
Thanks, Tom! I like that last quote about criticism. You’ve proved the often-used saying to be true: feel the fear and do it anyway. The journey can lead to surprising places.
Check out Tom’s work here: http://tomclementsphotography.com/
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