Thursday, September 15

The truth about my life

"I just lose myself in my sewing. I don't know how to describe it. You know when I start beading... I'm so absorbed in what I'm doing, I forget everything. I'm sewing and I'm creating a design and I just don't know how to describe it. I just lose myself in it. "

I am usually kind of up beat about everything. About life and my art in general. I think life as an artist/ freelancer is great but today, or rather the past couple of months, I've been feeling a bit down and just tired. And yes, today I've decided to be really honest and not hold back with what I have to say about my life. I was speaking to a few other creative friends and it's just sad and apparent how life as an artist/ creative/ freelancer is hard. I mean life in general is already hard. Regardless of whether or not you're a banker, a lawyer, scientist, teacher or artist. But I think life as an artist is especially hard. I grew up being told I wouldn't make any money as an artist. In Singapore, and almost everywhere else, that's pretty much the mindset of people. To a certain extent, I hate to admit it but I think it's true. The past couple of months, I've just been thinking a lot about my practice, my work and just the person I am. I've always been a really motivated and driven person. Back in high school, I already knew I couldn't do anything else apart from art. So I pushed myself and did art all day long. I made sure I got myself into design school.

While in design school, I knew I wanted to be artist for the rest of my life. I discovered my passion for teaching and educating. So I worked and studied and made lots of crafty stuff. People my age were having the time of their life, partying, travelling. But I on the other hand chose to stay home and make art all day long. Don't get me wrong, but I really loved it and still think it was the best thing to do. Right after my design diploma, I plonked myself in teaching for a year and worked with so many kids. It was amazing. Such a wonderful opportunity. and till today, I still think discovering my love for teaching back then, was probably the best thing that ever happened for me.

Right after teaching for a year, I packed my life up and moved to Melbourne and went to art school to do my painting degree. I remember back in second year, my friends were all having fun and partying after school hours. Some of them were working part time to earn extra cash. I earned my cash by selling and making art. All day long. I thought hard and turned my work into home wares and affordable alternatives. In my opinion, people would be more inclined to buy smaller stuff that was usable, as compared to a large painting. I think I was probably the only idiot preparing myself for the unglamorous artist life after art school. I often spoke to my friends about our ambitions. I remember for a class, everyone had to share what their dream after art school was. 90% of my classmates said they plan to travel the world, and take a year off. I thought to myself then, as if I'd had such a luxury!

So during my second and third year at uni, I did a lot of testing and experimenting, all on top of my own school work. I did craft markets, and kept on working, working and working.

Just before I graduated last year, I decided to start looking for a job as a teacher. I landed in a part-time teaching job which I grew to hate. Had a boss that drove me nuts and pressured me to tears every time I worked. I finally left the job after several months. And now I'm working freelance. I spend my days working on making art, commissions, teaching part time.

Sometimes people tell me what they would give, to have my life and that I should appreciate the fact that I get to do what I love. I know. I do appreciate it and everyday, I wake up and I'm so thankful I get to do what I love. But sometimes, this life of mine scares me. I'm turning 25 next year. I know I'm young. But I'm thinking is this really what I want to go through for the rest of my life? I know compared to some many others, I am really lucky and blessed. I know that. I am! But it just scares me to think if this is really it. Am I going to have to worry and fret over financial stuff for the rest of my life, in order to pursue what I love? I know and am so sure I want to have my own studio, teaching kids and making art. But how am I going to get myself to the point where I can say ' Ok! This is it! I am ready and I've got the money! Let's lease this little shop space and start my own thing! ' Truth is, I am VERY ready. It's just the financial side of things. Mmm...

As of right now, not knowing whether or not, I get enough money for the coming month. If I would get any commissions, freelance jobs. Constantly having to think up new things to make, advertising my work and having to keep encouraging others to buy my art. Tweeting, blogging and just bombarding people with promotions. It just makes me feel so horrible. I think about having kids and whether or not my life as an artist would be enough to start a family. I start asking myself why am I not good with anything else other than art and teaching? Is that really all I can do? What if ten years down the road, they both don't work out? What would I be left with?

I often get emails about people asking me how I do it, how I earn a living. My answer, God knows! No, seriously, without God and my faith in Him, I don't even know how I'd survive. I' probably be crazy by now. I always tell myself God provides and will provide no matter what happens. But I just sometimes cannot deal with this whole big question mark of what's next. I often find myself admiring others. My friends are all lawyers, doctors, bankers, accountants. They have steady incomes and are looking at buying houses, investing. What about me? I have no clue about all these property investment stuff. I still feel like I'm 16. Totally clueless and thinking I'm ready to take on the world with my art. I don't have any back up plans.

I don't know how to describe my passion for teaching and art making. I really don't. I just love it and I do it because it's what makes me happy. Just like Mabel. But at the same time, reality is always harsh and it comes back to kick me in my butt. Reality tells me how passion isn't enough to just sustain me. Passion isn't going to just pay my rent for me every month. I think of teaching. How I could teach and work in a school. But the thing is, art teachers are mostly part-timers too. What are the chances of me being offered a full-time art teaching job? I keep trying to work hard, but time after time, I find myself getting kicked back to square 1.
Just this year, on top of all the doubts and worries, I've had my work stolen and copied, sold without my knowledge. I've been cheated and taken for granted and as a result, lost some money I thought I was getting. I've been in an out of a job. I've lost my friend and the loss reminds me of how short life really is. I don't know what to do.

I have other creative friends who are really lucky. They're able to pay their bills and go full time with what they love doing. But I also have friends who had to shut down their businesses, get a proper job. Give up what they love. It's a struggle for people like us.

Sometimes I think, people need to know that freelancing isn't easy. That life as an artist is probably one of the shittiest thing ever, but at the same time it is so rewarding. How contradicting. But yes, that's the ugly truth. You pay and spend lots of money making art. You tell yourself it's all for passion. You work so hard, not knowing if you'll get anything in return. It's all a matter of faith and hoping. Some days, you wake up smiling and knowing it'll be a good day. Some days you wake up wishing you were smarter and had a regular job.

Well, I don't know. I was speaking to a friend yesterday. And she mentioned we should probably have some sort of crafters therapy group or something. Ah. I couldn't agree more. Oh well. Sorry for complaining and being all whiney. I just needed to get this all out of my system.


  1. For someone who's been there and done it, I really can understand where you are coming from. I kind of gave up and got a stable job but my brother who is in the creative field didn't, and he succeeded (succeeded in Singapore too!). So I guess at the end of the day, it's possible. :) You just have to keep doing what you do, and be passionate about it! ^^ *hugs* and good luck! :)

  2. Thanks for sharing Dawn. I actually listened to a very interesting interview on ABC Radio National about artists and the support they should get. There were two sides to the debate. Basically, there were those who believe that artists should be nurtured and supported so that we (the non arty people) can enjoy art. However, on the other hand, there are those whose attitude is, well I have to sit through my shitty 9-5 day job doing something I don't enjoy, why should artists be supported so they can do something they do enjoy instead of getting a "real" job.

    My view of this, is that I'm in a job where there are aspects which I love and there are aspects which I hate but both bits make up my whole job. And I have to deal with both of the good and the bad. As an Artist, I guess the challenge is to get through the bits that you hate, eg marketing yourself and persuading people to buy your art so that you can enjoy the bits that you like. Maybe the attitude to take is see that the shitty tasks along with the time you get to make art make up your whole career.

    Oh and I don't mean to be culturally insensitive (I'm Asian myself), but I had a very similar problem when I was your age with seeing all my friends buy investment properties, getting married, earning good money etc because they all chose career paths that all "good Asians" take and I felt like somehow I might be left behind. But seriously, I soon got over that because you can't compare. My life turned out differently and that was how I wanted it. Now I see some of my friends, and they seem so "vanilla" to me. Whereas friends who I have met who are different, arty, socially minded are so much more interesting!

    Sorry for the long post and probably doesn't help you pay the rent but I just hope this might give you a different perspective on how you could view your life.

  3. Hey Dawn,

    I've been following your blog ever since a friend posted some of your super squishy marshmallow packets on her blog.

    DON'T GIVE UP! You seem like an amazing person, so nice and sweet and passionate. I'm jealous because you have such a strong idea of what you love and get to combine all aspects of it together in your life. You get to teach little sweeties and you get to make your own individual artworks and you work in an amazing space with other talented artists. You just need to find a balance that suits you so that you feel secure and safe, as well as loving every minute of what you do.

    Well, I just wanted to say that I believe in you. Don't ever give up!


  4. Hi Dawn, thanks for sharing a really honest and thoughtful post. I'm on the other side, working 9 to 5, but dreaming of the day I'll be able to make a living (even if it a harder living) from doing art/design full time.
    I really believe that the passion for art and teaching will get you through to wherever you want to be in the end. If that's where you energy lies, that's where you should be. But life does throw up some big tests before you get there!
    From reading your blog and twitter it seems big things are continuing to happen, and I'm definitely sure they will become more and more consistent - ie less ups and downs. I have a lot of art pals that went straight into it after uni, and although they struggled for awhile, 7 or so years later they are making a good living from it (art/photography/music etc)...
    Now if I could only follow my own advice... :)

  5. I feel your pain Dawn, I have to learn how to separate myself from my work so i don't get so emotional. Its such a roller coaster ride doing what you love.
    Have you seen this blog post, its really interesting:

  6. Sending huge virtual hugs over Dawn. I can't imagine how it must feel to have that worry hang over you all the time. That being said what you're doing is amazing and it'd be a real shame if you had to stop doing what you're doing.
    I'm a so-called "marketer" by training, if you ever want to bounce off some ideas/pick my brain or have a chat about advertising, promoting etc feel free to drop me a line..either that or you can just have a whinge. :)

  7. I’m really sorry you’re feeling so down. I’m in the middle I guess. I work a full-time job and I work as a sculptor. Unlike you I got off to late start--I didn’t start until I was 30. I’m Asian too and my parents were not thrilled that I started doing art. Even if you work a 9-5 job to make ends meet doesn’t mean you have to give up art. I admit though, it’s hard. Sometimes I’m getting only 2-3 hours of sleep a night and working flat out at the office and then I run back home and work some more. I both love and hate art at those times. But you know, I do it anyway because I waited so long to do art that I’m not giving it up. Please take care. Don’t give up. (Oh and please keep blogging! I really enjoy your blog.)

  8. Hallelujah! Someone has to say it. The self doubt, uncertainty and general feeling of "what the hell am I doing?" that goes along with being an artist is sometimes so overwhelming. I haven't worked out a way to make any money out of my work yet, but darn it, I will. I went back to uni to study vis arts at the age of 30 and am now 34. I still have no idea how I'm gonna make it all 'work'. But I'll do my best to enjoy the process. Artists definitely work for love, not money. It's so, so true.

  9. I totally get where you're coming from. I can only do what I do because my husband has a regular income, and I am often looking at the kid serving me at Coles, wishing I was earning money like him instead of spending it. I love art. I love making useful things. But I need to make it pay. I have plans... and they're not too grand so I think they're achievable, but there is a LOT of work to do. Thanks for telling our side of the story. (But I still don't want to do anything different - here's hoping we both won't have to!)

  10. I think it's fantastic that you're out there trying to make a living from what you love.
    I would have never had the courage to give up my stable employment to follow an art/craft career full time.
    It takes lots of guts (and hard work and perserverance) which I think you have!

  11. Hey lovely one!

    My Grandma always says that God will provide - I don't remember the verse but there's a bit about how the birds in the sky don't worry about where their food comes from. I know it's easier enough to say when it's someone elses life etc but hopefully it makes sense. When I got my first full time job out of uni she (Grandma) wrote me a letter about how I needed to make sure that I gave my tenth to the church or whatever because that money is God's in a way. Place your trust in God and he will provide :)

  12. Hi Dawn, I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago. I love everything you make! I am an artist as well and I can relate so much to what you wrote here. I'm about to turn 25 too and I'll be graduating with my MFA next June, but I have no idea what I'll be able to do next. To have a full time art job seems like such a luxury. I too am trying to find ways to make money from my art on the side while it does seem like most of my classmates are focused on the gallery scene and becoming professors. Of course I want that too but I just wonder how attainable it will really be. Best of luck to you, though. I think we will find our way in the end. You have a lot of talent. :)

  13. Dear Dawn
    I'm 20 years older than you and I still don't know the answer to the work, life, money balance of being a creative type.
    Design and making is really all I've ever known and having done lots of different forms of it I have to say it is a hard and exhausting slog.... you know what though?.... I wouldn't have it any other way.
    Sometimes there isn't enough money to go around, sometimes I can't stand being copied and ripped off, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to own my own home, go on real holidays, drive a new car, have weekends off and free time, money in the bank.......
    I know that I couldn't live the life of my corporate friends and this is the pay off, if I couldn't spend my days creating I wouldn't be me, I'd be frustrated and depressed. To me creativity has no bounds of age and it is something organic and develops with age and experience, its a journey you choose to go for the rest of your life.
    Dawn don't give up, just use your creativity to find a way to make it work for you...... and do you know that the end of the first year out of your degree is always the hardest? It's when everyone feels flat and alone in the world, that's why people run away overseas! And having a part time job isn't a cop out, it's what everyone does at some stage.
    Chin up, it will all come together.
    pen xx

  14. Matthew6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

    28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

    33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

    My advice that I have for you now would be to cast your mind off these matters and instead concentrate on the task God has given you.
    Our time on this earth is fleeting, as seen in James 3, and what is eternal isn't the riches and comfort of this world, but our lives after death, be it in heaven or hell.
    As a result, we should strive towards working towards our salvation, by living life according to God's plan. I'll keep you in my prayers along with pa and ma :D
    strive on!

  15. Oh Dawn... you are so inspiring, gorgeous and brave!!! Don't give up... please!!! I know it can be hard sometimes but you have to do what your passionate about and love... or else what's the point!!? I decided 20 years ago I decide to veer off my creative path... do lots of office jobs - some good, some horrible and some soul destroying... So here I am rediscovering my creativity 20 years later and I couldn't be happier!! But in the end you have to do what's right for you!! You are so talented and I am so sure there will be loads amazing thing happening for you in your creative future!! Life is short... Good luck :) xxx

  16. Thanks for sharing with such honesty Dawn, your post meant more to me than you'll ever know.

    I've just turned 25 and have been trying to break into/make a living from design for 5 years now. At this point I have to say, my endeavours have been unsuccessful and I am juggling 3 casual jobs to support myself.

    Like you I was super driven at high school and university, forgoing parties/friends to concentrate on design. I did extra work, entered competitions, I basically lived and breathed design. And now when I consider my current situation, I think was it really worth it? I'm not so sure.

    The creative life can be really shitty. There's is the constant insecurity, and working hard doesn't necesarily equal 'success' or any kind of results.

    For me, I'm exhausted from putting myself out there and getting rejected. I think it would be much easier to get a 'normal' job, but yet there's that little bit inside me that just won't give up. I wish I could let it go. But I can't seem to. aaaarghh!

  17. Hi dawn,
    Your post reminded me so much of myself at your age except that you have already achieved so much more than I had. It took me a good 10 years to get my big break in the creative industry and another 10 years of experience has created all the contacts and networks to have the freedom to be a bit selective with the jobs I take on. Of course I have the luxury of a wonderfully supportive husband now too, but my point is that like you, I did the hard yards early on and it can eventually pay off.
    You are ONLY 25! So young and driven. My only advice to you is to never give up on your dreams. Make your life extraordinary regardless of what those around you are doing. There's plenty of time for travel, buying a house and all of those things you talked about if that's what you want. If you have to get a "regular" job to take the pressure off a bit then maybe you can see it as a stepping stone to further success. Just don't give up. PLEASE! My sister and I are big fans of what you do and admire your incredible talent. Sorry to waffle on so much but I feel passionately about the issues you've raised. Keep up the fabulous work.

  18. Hi Dawn, I understand what you mean. I actually work full time as an emergency nurse because I don't have the courage to give up my income. Although this allows me to buy materials and not feel worried by it, it is this decision that also inhibits my creativity because I am usually too tired to create at the end of my day.

    Don't give up! You are too talented for that. But make it work for you. Perhaps find another way to generate a little extra (regular) income just to give you breathing room and make you sleep better at night. Maybe see a financial planner or an accountant who can advise you on other forms of income generation such as investing which will still allow you to make art. You are young, you have your whole life to generate wealth, but not always the opportunity to create art.

    By the way, if you haven't seen Ken Robinson's TED speech on education and creativity, I think, for you it might be essential viewing!

  19. I believe being a freelance creative is one of the hardest jobs going. Having the courage to create and share your work is hard enough but dealing with the ups and downs financially is just as tough. I feel your pain Dawn and I wanted to stand by your side and give you a great big hug when I read your post. Living the creative life is HARD. I've found what makes it bearable is having people around you who totally get it and champion your cause when you're feeling down. Don't give up! You are amazing! And I agree with Danielle - "make your life extraordinary regardless of what those around you are doing" -wise words Danielle. There's so much to love about the freelance life and on the days when it really sucks, I try and remind myself. Take care lovely, you have many champions,
    Allison x

  20. Oh no! I work at an organisation that exists to promote and support independent contemporary dance in WA. At 25, I feel the same as you- although my income is relatively steady (in comparison to the dancers I work with), I hit a point last year where it occurred to me that I probably wanted to move back to the country (where I grew up) and that I wanted a more stable way of life. So boring! We were all whinging the other day that nobody can focus on the actual art enough because we are always trying to get money to DO the art. Then when I was thinking about it all later, I realised that there aren't many jobs out there where you can focus on the part of it you want to do- most jobs have their downsides (mainly due to money and paper work)! Hang in there! There are too many of us intently watching and loving what you do!

  21. Hi Dawn,
    My partner is a musician (electronic, not DJ stuff but think more Hans Zimmer & other peeps who write music for movies etc), and whilst he brings in moolah, we made the decision years ago since it was sporadic, I would support both of us day to day & we would just save his. After all, the rent has to be paid & we have to eat. We went through a terrible time where I lost my day job thanks to the GFC & we had nothing to eat & were getting evicted. His music wasn't bringing in anything at that stage, so we were just poor. I am happy to be spousal support for now, because all his money goes towards our future home, & we would like to have one. But it is hard working a normal job, because I too am arty. I had to give that idea up maaaany years ago, so it's not as hard for me. But now I'm staring my own business with my crochet, & I have to fit it in around my awful job at a cafe. I think anyone who manages to support themselves by being an artist/freelance creative person (& this encompasses sooo many different things) is a bloody ripper & deserves all the help, support & cheerleading they can get. :) I think people who look at a freelance creative & wonder why they don't have a 'real job' just don't get it: this IS your real job & peeps who don't get that are just ignorant & stupid. I also think that it is just as hard on the partner supporting the freelancer as it is being the freelancer.
    So you just KEEP you chin UP girl and you KEEP CREATING wonderful & beautiful things!!

  22. Probably a bit too late but I totally agree!
    I've got a boyfriend who's a freelancer animator (and working full time for pittance!!) and I see him struggle it out daily, using our home as his office.
    Gotta add too that as a community worker, i can totally understand the struggle!! Working to try and make a difference in people's lives is generally not profitable and sometimes (especially when I am PMSing) I wonder too if I should have become a banker.
    Stay strong and remember our passions give us the will and passion to live. Everything else will hopefully follow suit ;)
    Chin up love, Limyiew

  23. Thank you for such a heart felt post. It is comforting to know there are so many other artists out there feeling the same things! Your work is always an inspiration for me to keep going! I always try to make short term goals in order to reach my bigger goals. That way all of the little achievements I make feel more important. I can tick them off on my list and it feels like I am on my way and making progress! (Rather than feeling like I'm not getting anywhere and it is all too overwhelming).

  24. I was so moved by reading this (I can relate!) that I responded to it with a blog post of my own. We artists don't often come out and talk about just how frustrating this life we've chosen can be sometimes, but it's not all fun and games, and it's good to at least have the comfort and solidarity that others are dealing with this stuff too. I wasn't going to mention my response post to you, but some different people said you might enjoy reading it, so here it is:
    You're an inspiration to more people than you know!

  25. Keep going for it, live your dream to the fullest and have no regrets, life can be a challenge at time but its all part of the learnign curve. Believe in yourself and reach for the stars. xx

  26. KEEP ON GOING, DAWN !!! I'm Asian Australian and I hear you and where you're coming from but mostly my friends aren't all asians and if they were I think I would compare myself to them. Of course Asians are all encouraged to take the safe high paying roads like doctors, lawyers, bankers etc. but ARE THEY HAPPY ? Yeah they may look happy and have their house and their holidays and all that but deep down , are they TRULY happy ? I have been down the road of working jobs and having successful careers and have earnt great income and I have travelled the world a few times as well. I am now 45 and I have 2 great kids who are a full - time job at times but I love them to death. I only now have come full circle and fulfilling the dream I wanted when I was young but due to self -doubt and thinking I might be a poor artist, I decided to choose a safer route. I thought that was what I wanted . I changed careers many times but all were mainly to earn a living and to make ends meet. I think something you should think about is writing an e-book and selling it to teach your techniques. You could also teach online courses to people online like Camp Pikaland. That is a great virtual art school. That would give you a lot of inspiration. A book you should read is The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It will help you keep positive, keep creative and also not lose sight of these amazing dreams that you have made a reality for yourself. Enjoying what you do is pricelss and on top, you have talent !

  27. oh LORD. Believe it or not we bankers, lawyers, doctors etc do what WE love too. It takes a lot of passion and effort and is very creative and rewarding too - it's so funny how bad artists try to put down the rest of the "non-arty"(yeah sure you have a monopoly on it don't you) population just because they are stuffing up their lives. So if you aren't making money perhaps you should realise that you're not great at what you do and try something else, or shock horror get a job to pay the bills and do the rest as a hobby. You had one bad boss boo-hoo you sound like such a spoilt brat. Loads of artists and creatives DO make lots of money and lots of crappy professionals don't. Really it is so sad to see the artist stereotype confirmed here.

  28. There is definitely a trade-off about whether you'd want a job that pays comfortably-although you're not exactly liking the job, or a job-'freelance' whatever...etc that has varied monthly income depending on job demands. Therefore, I disagree with you-I can't exactly say that Sam is a meanie because what he/she said does have certain truths in it.

    Bottom line is: everyone is indeed struggling in this thing we call the rat-race. Some have it easy - whether it's because of rich family support or an extremely successful job...etc some have it tough- those that depend solely on what they earn...etc to make a living.

    I believe you shouldn't keep comparing with others. Just be content with what you have, and Thank God for His providence. Trust him and have faith when in dire times. Comparisons with friends who are better off will always make you miserable. So it's definitely not worth it to have such thoughts.

    I believe that You should take criticism in your stride and always take these things with a pinch of salt. No need to say that "he/she is just jealous....sore about life...etc" because, ultimately, the 'sam' here is only saying it in context of that particular blog post and definitely does not know you well enough or your situation well enough to make such a judgement right? so don't be affected by that. Be the bigger person, and let it go.

    You're not the only one in this world in this kind of situation. If money really matters so much to you in terms of bills...etc then please, spend your money wisely. No need to splurge on expensive items like your swedish hasbeens...etc when you can get a pair of shoes for like $10? Shop at the bargain counters/shops instead of eyeing all the designer clothes that cost like $100 a piece? It's these kind of things where you can really save. Every little cent counts. Like buying organic vegetables defnitely taste, well, better and fresher? But it's more expensive right? Being the 'auntie' mindset that I have, I would go all out to save every 10/20/50cents...etc from every item i buy at the supermarket. I definitely have friends who aren't well-off either, taking student loans to pay for their university education...etc so that they can be independent and not depend on their parents' money. So they definitely don't indulge in such luxury. So yeah, this is just my two cents worth. I'm sure you're adult enough to know how to be frugal.

    All the best, and don't give up!

  29. Hi Dawn! After that last comment I felt a little bit like I should reply. Your financial stresses are not because you're not a good artist - no matter what other people say! AND it's because people like you take the risk to make art their life that leads to people pushing the creative boundaries and making other people happy. Yes, life is scary, and you never know what's going to happen. But it's the same in every profession.
    Working as a doctor I come home worried that I should have done something better, perhaps I shouldn't have sent a patient home, maybe I should have been more empathetic to my patients, etc. Due to all this stress, I've taken time out and chosen to go down a slightly different path but still staying within Medicine. I feel the same way that you feel about art. If I couldn't work as a doctor I don't really know what else I would do. But I think I've finally realised that the trick is to stay in the field you love but try to tackle it from a different angle. And it really sounds like that's what you're trying hard to do, and I applaud you for it!

    I know that my stresses are different to yours. Sure, I have less financial stress and more job security, but I do wake up at 3am wondering what happened to a patient earlier in the day. Each job has its ups and downs, it's just a matter of figuring out what they are so that you can try and work with them and make your life as stress free as you can - whatever it is that stress may be! Jelena xxx

  30. it annoys me too when artists (and i work as an illustrator outside of work hours) question other people's happiness just because they're not on some giant art crusade. i know people who work in office jobs that genuinely like it. i know people who work as tradies and genuinely like it. i work in a part-time job in retail and genuinely like it, partly because it gives me financial security so i can spend my other hours drawing and having exhibitions, paying bills and the like. i work with someone who works their job so that they can go home and cook with fancy imported ingredients and buy expensive recipe books.
    For your information, most people are following their dreams one way or the other, be it raising their kids so they're happy, saving up for a holiday or training for a marathon, and just because you've decided to spend all your time following your dream doesn't give you or any other artist, the right to question how another person is fulfilling their passions.
    And, just so you know, the truth about your life is that you don't have it that bad. there are people sleeping on streets tonight who have absolutely nowhere else to go and don't have any chance at realising their dreams. you really are not in a position to complain about the challenges you face.

  31. DAWN TAN do not let anyone tarnish your blog with their whiny crapola. It always amazes me that people take the time to read, login and leave a comment on a blog when they have nothing nice to say.

    TO SAM and other ANONYMOUS COMMENTER - It's a personal blog, if you don't like what you read, go read something else! You haven't parted with any cash to read this blog or admire the artwork Dawn shares here... reading this blog means being shown a little window in her world - if you don't like it, no-one's forcing you to read!

    Dawn. It look me a long time to feel ok to DELETE comments if they are not constructive. I now realise that's ok sometimes. It's your space. It's your prerogative. This space should make you happy every time you log in. If it doesn't - DELETE!

    OH and ps Dawn - I've been freelance / self employed for 10 years now, since straight out of uni, and I don't have any idea how it works either - but guess what, it just does! Sure the work varies, and the pay varies, but I have never been without work or an income, and neither will you. It just takes about 5 years before you realise - 'oh, I get it, this IS my career!' SO MANY others like you have made a profession this way - Beci Orpin, for instance. Hang in there. Doubting yourself occasionally is normal (and keeps you hungry). But take it from me Ms Tan - You're going places.

    Night night superstar. XXX

  32. Dawn Tan,
    You are amazing and that's all!
    Love Love
    Hello Sandwich

  33. To Lucy,

    Yes we may be saying things that makes Dawn unhappy, but they may be insightful/constructive-to make her see the bigger picture, that she's not alone in this, that she's definitely more fortunate than so many other people out there who are jobless/homeless! We're not saying that her art/drawings suck! In fact, I really do admire her talent because i can't draw for nuts! I mean, seriously, no criticism about her work at all! She is financially stable, not poor, not broke, not homeless...etc merely just ranting/whining about her worries/stress... sure thing!

    It's your personal space after all! You're entitled to your own rantings/posts, and as passer-bys... we're entitled to our opinions as well, constructive or not? But I'm sure we may say things that may hurt Dawn because, they're unjustified/baseless, because we're commenting based on the post itself. Or maybe sometimes, we're saying the truth, which hurts? I really don't know.

    Believe in yourself. Everyone goes through such worries and stress everyday, be it studies or work or relationships. Some cope with it better, some need to rant it out. Some are really good at pretending life's perfect. Some can't pretend at all. We're humans after all. Life has its ups and downs. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.


    You'd be fine!

  34. Ha ! Sam thinks the artist stereotype is confirmed here in Dawn ! Sam has proven the unhappy professional stereotype that he/she is ! If Dawn is such a bad artist and a spoilt brat, then what the hell are you doing here , Sam ? GO AWAY ! Why waste your time here ?

    Dawn, don't listen to Sam. He/she just confirms how unhappy and miserable he/she is !

    You are a fantastic and talented artist otherwise we wouldn't be here reading your blog or following your art. People like Sam are just bored with their lives and if anything, sounds like he's/she's a little envious otherwise he /she wouldn't take the time to be here to attack you and hit you where he/she thinks it hurts most. He/she probably doesn't have the talent to be an artist but also hasn't got the balls to take the leap and become one so therefore it feels good to be able to comment and bring down someone who has the talent.

    You stay true to yourself, Dawn. Those who love you and your work will always support you. The true supports will lift you up when you're feeling down. Not bring you down further. Hope you're having a nice life, Sam !

  35. Dawn, i think it's really interesting to hear the true perspective of a freelance artist. A lot of the time, blogs make peoples' lives out to be all plain sailing when we know that life aint perfect and there are ups and downs with any job! So thank you for sharing your feelings on here. :) keep up the inspiring work!x

  36. I'm the one who is following your blog. I just want to tell you that your works are very inspiring me.
    I love your drawing, I love your painting and I love your class.


  37. Sam and Anonymous - Obviously those professions are suitable to you - because you have followed that path. For "artists" trying to follow their path, it's not that doing a "normal" job is below them - it's that these people have spent years studying and pursuing art. (just as you have spent years studying and pursuing your careers). And it's not so cut and dry in this profession to get a 9-5 job or a job that isn't a contract or a commisssion. And that is where you speak from your assumptions and really don't know what you are talking about. Artists can't just look on SEEK or Career One and just pick up a job. It's not a job that is in high demand! ALOT of commissions are underpaid. In this day and age the competition is becoming greater - especially with DIY programs & templates that are offered to amateurs to create their own "designs". Our craft is less appreciated in such a technological society. And it is our job now to try and shape and change the role of the artist and our worth. Many GREAT artists go unnoticed and it's not because their art isn't amazing - it's because art is so subject to differences of opinions, marketing, exposure etc etc etc... Many of the GREATS in art died before they were noticed. SO really just stick to lecturing on something you are more informed about. It is quite obvious that Dawn Tan is successful in that she has so many blog comments and followers - including yourselves! AND She's only so young yet!

  38. Where do people think this is going to end up, when working artists who need to earn an income don't get the financial room they need to do what they do let alone earn a decent, relyable income from it artmaking it's taken from working class people and left to people who can afford it. It says if you're poor then shut up, you don't get a voice, that's what it comes down to. People don't make the connection to value our work (but are quite happy to complain when their voice is missing from it), artists don't just paint, they are resposible for the music, film, plays and such that people who do work 9-5 (and other hours) go and see but they want to stop us making them by denying us our due financially? Would they rather be force fed work made by people who can't relate to them and subvert their stories?

    If others put in the same effort and get their dream job why not artists and BTW try being told you can't do the only thing you ever wanted to (before you even get to can't get paid for it) because society thinks making money mopping floors is all you're good for and art is a waste of time, or have someone who knows nothing about what you do show up univited at your work and tell you how to do your job, that not only do you suck at it because you don't appeal to their taste but you're a snob as well for trying to explain it to them, or how about that it's not really work, you're lazy and to get a "real job". Seriously either art is just a job (then pay us properly and give us the benifits you take for granted) or it isn't in which case don't make that comparison, you can't have it both ways, you sam are the spoilt brat quite happy to enjoy the product of our sweat, criticize it as though you could do better (if you had the guts to try) complain about us getting a fraction of what you take for granted while denying our right to be paid for a profession we've devoted years of study and practice to and made heafty personal sacrifices for, and then you want us to pull something good out of the hat to keep you amused?

    The whole industry is so lopsided if art was nothing more than a job then no one would bother with it but I don't see a lot of credit being given to people out there giving it a shot, instead they'd rather hide behind "get a real job". We don't say that about our athletes and our entrepreneurs.