The Work Comes First

 
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One of my favorite images of my work this year. 

I am real into end of year/beginning of year transitions. I stopped nursing each of my three kids on New Years Eve of the year they were one. Not because they were ready or I was ready, but because I needed that marked transition. No time of the year gets me more sentimental, grateful, reflective and envisioned than New Year. 

This end of the first "real" year in business stuff is oof. I say first "real" year because although I was selling my work and had a DBA and tax ID since 2014, this is the first year I ordered my life to work regular hours, got a separate bank account and made some real investments (read: spent a lot of money). 

Looking at all the numbers, I cannot believe how much I have sold in artwork. Me, Jamie Tubbs. Thousands of dollars. Five digits, okay? Five years ago I did not associate with the word artist except loosely in the way I approach life or see the world. Now I make a physical thing with my hands, the purpose of which is to hang on the wall and speak to you and maybe give you feelings, and people give me money for these things I'm making from raw materials. What a freakin' dream. 

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Photoshoot outtake with Sarah Lawhead.  I'm parenting while commenting on composition; baby is being amazing. 

I have worked hard before, and as much before, but I have never worked as hard and as much as I have this year. Considering the time I put in, I probably made a couple dollars an hour. But what I lacked in wages I got paid dividends in an incredible dream lifestyle. That financial net gain is still a punch in the gut and has me dreaming of how to do better in 2018. 

Whenever I think of making goals and plans about money though, it feels a little off. This last year, if I'm honest, I was striving. Striving so hard to prove to myself, to my family, and to people who don't believe in me that I can make a financial contribution. That my net worth is not only how well I parent and clean and craft and home make like the boxes I emerged from offered to me. I learned a lot in that striving this year. My work as an artist developed for sure. But I had so many stressful nights of soul-wringing, pushing away my deeper parts to look for the fastest way to make cash for my family. 

The truest truth about me that I know is that when I connect with my soul, I find gold. I have never, to this day seen that work result in financial success. That's why I faced so much self-doubt and striving this year. But while I saw increase and growth in that state of pressure, it's not how I want to continue. 

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Lesson of 2017: I will not take as good of photos as a professional unless I choose to invest in the time and equipment of a professional. 

I know that in my core the good I have to bring to the world is as a communicator and maker- an artist. What's good about my work came from that authentic and free place. So in 2018, while I do want to triple my sales, my focus is going to be on the work itself. Before selling, before gramming. Before great photography and regular blog posts. Before it can be seen or respected or paid for, I have to make the actual work. The work comes first. And happily, this is my favorite part when I allow myself to do it. But man, it's going to take some faith to step slowly and deliberately as opposed to churning like a factory and seeking rest (which is really no rest at all) in working fast and hard. 

The Jealous Curator shared this video a few weeks ago on her Instagram of a letter from one artist to another. It really resonated with me and fed my vision for the next year of my work. "You are not responsible for the world; you are only responsible for your work. So stop tormenting yourself and just DO." Watch it if you also need a kick in the pants to let go of the peripheries and focus on the work you have to do.  

Much love, 

Jamie