One day last week, I had an interesting exchange with one of the customers at work. He comes in once in a while with his daughter. He's probably in his mid-thirties or so.
Anyway, we greet each other and he says, "Wow, you've been here for a long time. You own the place yet?" I laughed and replied, "No".
Him: "You're a manager, then, right?"
Me: "Yeah, I've been managing here for the past 9 years or so"
Him: "Man, you ought to be ready to buy the place then..."
Me: "Nah, I don't want own the store"
Him: "I understand. You can always open your own store sometime"
Me: "No, I'm not interested in owning a store. I have my own thing going on"
Him: "Oh, what's that?"
Me: "I'm an artist. I've been doing it for the past 23 years and that's what I'm concentrating on"
Him: "Yeah, well, everyone needs to have dreams."
Me: "Well, it's more than a dream for me."
I then went on to tell him some of what I've been doing lately and how my art career has been growing and so on. I spoke to him in such a way as to there not being any doubt about my chosen path and I think that surprised him a bit. There was a distinct point where he gave me this slightly puzzled look, it wasn't real obvious, but his demeaner definately changed a little, as if he couldn't understand that I'm 100% serious about being a painter. I think some people just aren't used to artists talking about thier work and careers the way people of other professions talk about theirs.
Question: "What do you do?"
Answer: "I'm a painter"
That's it. I'll tell people that I have a job, but that's never the first thing out of my mouth anymore. At one time, I was reticent to tell people that I was an artist. The reason? Well, we all know that art isn't a viable way to make a living, blah, blah, blah...why not just do it on the side, blah, blah, blah..."Well, good luck with that"(translation: "One day, you'll have to wake up and face *real* life...BLAH, BLAH, BLAH...")
Dreams really are good to have. The difference for people like me is that we are living our dreams every day. I know I am. Every day. Even when I'm not in the studio. I've been doing so for the past 23 years with and without money and will continue to do so. I'll stop doing art when I'm dead.