I, Tula, am a proud ‘Creative’! I absolutely love all things artsy!!
2 of the arts I love most are music and fashion. I decided at some point in primary school that I wanted to be a fashion designer. At the time it was the perfect plan!! When I started to take it more seriously and moved in the direction of making it a reality by studying fashion in university, I found that actually it can be a very hard industry to get into and in certain areas of fashion (the parts I liked the most) it’s pretty difficult to get paid too!
After university I was made redundant from my first fashion job (that I was hoping would be my foot in the door) and ended up being offered opportunities to teach singing in schools instead. This wasn’t part of my plan but I went with it and it turned out that I really enjoyed teaching singing for some time! I love singing anyway, so being able to listen to music all day and stretch my lungs regularly with people who love to do the same just seemed right.
I’ve always considered myself a reliable worker. If I was booked to teach a class or workshop I’d be there, be on time, prepared beforehand and worked hard to get the best results possible, but I was challenged by the infrequency of payment (again!). I had to question how I could consistently work hard, regularly invoice for hundreds of pounds and sometimes be paid only £60 for a MONTH!?? That’s a phone bill payment, about 3 bus journeys and a McChicken sandwich meal without an apple pie. Needless to say, I found it hard to wholeheartedly do what I love, knowing that after class I’d have no choice but to walk home from East London to North London because I didn’t have enough for my Oyster card fare. I made the tough decision to leave music in order to regain my love for it away from money.
I’ve done other jobs over time in admin, waitressing and such but I found that though I was capable, none intrigued me the same way as the arts. Not everyone is cut out for office jobs, doctoring, law, etc but as Creatives, we’re often confronted with choosing between doing what you love whilst living “hand to mouth” each month, or working our way up the ladder in jobs that pay the bills but keeps us away from doing the creative things we love because we have no time or energy after completing a days work.
One of the problems I think we have is that many creative jobs are considered “hobbies”, so when you explain that you’re pursuing a specific creative path, the following question is often, “ok, so what do you do as your job, like your 9-5?” Fam! For many of us, that IS the 9-5, in fact on most days it’s our 10.30-midnight, but who’s counting?
Unless you’re already known as a high profile artist, when you’re making your way up, it’s often said that the art should remain as a side thing because it doesn’t always pay… but why doesn’t it always pay?
We’re surrounded by the work of great artists every day! If we have paintings or arty photographs on our walls, when we play music by our favourite artists or a band comes to play at your wedding, when you sit on your favourite hand crafted chair, or you wear your best outfit with matching shoes, these – and more - are all things that are thought up and made beautiful by amazing Creatives who probably are, or have at some point been a little hungrier than the average for the sake of their craft. Someone had to make it their full time job against all odds to make your life more beautiful and functional.
Maybe the issue we have is how we value the arts and how unaware we are of the contrasting differences we’d see in life if they were less or non-existent. Think about it for a second…
I think at some point we really need to celebrate our local Creatives. How? Stop asking our friends for free entry to their shows, stop burning copies of their albums, stop asking for “mates rates” on their bespoke artworks, stop asking why their one off garments for you don’t cost the same as mass produced Primark pieces. Stop asking for/expecting freebies in general and support and help promote their crafts! Sometimes a friend will offer something for free and that’s great but take it upon yourself at least once every now and again to say, “You know what bro/sis, this time I’d like to pay full price” just because their creativity enriches your life and for any other thing you appreciate, whether it’s the services of your accountant, your travel agent, your estate agent, or your gas and electricity provider, you would have to pay whatever price you are told to pay because that’s it’s value.
I think Creatives of all kinds make our lives beautiful in so many ways and from one creative to another, I’d like to say thank you! I celebrate you for being brave enough to take steps in making yourself vulnerable to the world by sharing your most intimate expressions through your craft. I’m grateful for all the ways you’ve used colour, texture, movement and sound to inspire me to express myself, and how you’ve so perfectly explained your brilliant thoughts through words and acted out roles that have brought the most amazing stories to life. Thank you for the pretty wallpapers, the gorgeous textiles, the still and moving images caught of our favourite moments and more. Thank you for all the late nights and weekends you’ve kept creating around the job that you don’t enjoy that much.
Artists, you are geniuses and even if your bank account, your employers or even your friends and family don’t make it clear, we need you! If you keep pushing with consistency and determination, I genuinely believe your efforts will be rewarded. When we leave this life, we can’t take our money with us but we can most definitely leave a lasting legacy. Let your art be part of that.
Creatives, I celebrate you!!