How bad do you need it?

“How bad do you want it?

How bad do you need it?
Cause if you want it all
You’ve got to lay it all out on the line.”

Tim Mcgraw, “How Bad Do You Want It?”

070113_1849_MakingaHabi1.jpgCountry isn’t the most popular music genre out there, but sometimes they do hit the nail on the head. And really, if you don’t listen to country music…. well…………….. y’all need to rethink your life choices.

When I first started taking art semi-seriously, I remember researching materials and tools that I’d need. The biggest roadblock wasn’t just financial (since that wasn’t even always a problem.) It was also mental. I had this idea of, “I’m pooooooor I can’t buy quality stufffffff.” Plus, as a new artist, I felt that I’d use up my materials (ie, $6-a-piece markers) just learning the basics. So why not start out cheap? It made sense to me. “When you get good, you buy good stuff.” Yup.

And in retrospect, it was a smart move for the most part. The only downside is that it become a permanent state of mind.

“I’m not ‘good enough’ to buy Copic markers.”

“I’m not professional enough for a Cintiq… however much I drool over them.”

“A Moleskine sketchbook would be wasted on my skills…” (<–I bought those anyways, so they’re the exception I guess.)

Maybe this is just a letter to my past self: it is very scary to make big investments in your work and your supplies. The first time you purchase a Copic or Prismacolor set of markers, a large part of you recoils at the price tag, and I think it’s for two reasons:

The first (and obvious) one is that you’re letting go of MONEYZ. Yikes. Based on the Illinois minimum wage, a part-time worker will use about 14.5 hours of their paycheck to purchase a 24pc set of Copic markers. Ow.

But I think the second reason is much bigger. You’re investing that money in yourself. You have the double pressure of being an employer taking a risk, and being a new employee who IS a risk. AUGH. Even if you don’t think this way, you probably feel this way.

Like all mental obstacles, however, this problem becomes easier to work around once you admit it’s there. Not to get too psychological here, but once you address this tension openly, you’ll be able to largely eliminate it. For me, my scariest investment was my first laptop. It was the first time I’d ever paid more than $50 for something I hadn’t physically held in my hands yet, and it scared the livin’ daylights out of me. Plus, I was paying for it with a paycheck from my first-ever non-babysitting job. But it was a tablet/laptop that would allow me to draw digitally much more freely, and I needed a laptop for school. It was a smart buy, despite lasting less than two years before dying a very slow death. It was the first time I promised (unconsciously) that I wanted to take my work seriously.

Can you be a serious artist without investing in serious material? Sure. Is it worth the time, effort, money, and emotional trauma to buy the quality stuff? Hellz yeah.

What’s the scariest “leap of faith” you’ve ever made in your work?

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