November 17, 2017

Joys and Woes of Being a DIY Self Employed Artist, Pt 2: DIY’ing Everyfreakinthing

Fence we’re building ourselves.


We normally think of DIY relating to house renos – and trust me, there’s always plenty of that going on around my place. It’s not entirely what I’m referring to though I did say Everyfreakinthing, so sure why not, let’s include it too! It made it into the title of this series mostly because if you’re an artist, you’re the creative, inventive, craftsy, rigging type of person that usually doesn’t have a problem imagining how to do, fix and form whatever life throws at you all by your big grown self.  You do your beautiful amazing art. Design your logo, the business cards, letterhead, brochures, posters and flyers. Make the displays. Advertise. Market. Sell. Package. Ship (or personally deliver). Keep the records. Do the taxes.  Eat, sleep, repeat. Since I consider myself self-taught, I apply DIY to my education after high school too.   If you missed the chance or for whatever other reason bypassed university like I did, you’ve had to just figure out how to do business on your own – as I mentioned previously, I’ve had to stitch together business knowledge from personal experience, observation, and purposefully seeking out information (thank you Internet and YouTube!!).  I highly respect the successful self taught because I know they’ve had to bust butt extra hard to get where they are, and I firmly believe success isn’t limited to the college graduate. Independence and happiness for sure isn’t limited!  Being a self-taught professional indeed requires large amounts of learning, motivation, courage and passion to continue moving forward and navigating in a world that esteems school name + degree most. But we somehow go on and do it anyway! Yay for us!

If you’re feeling super human today, want to take it all on and you Can, go right on ahead! I don’t mean to be a downer discouraging you in some things I’m about to say. I’m only making it real, reminding myself that sometimes it’s perfectly fine to hire help, collaborate, seek volunteers, etc. for specialty things. Sometimes going beyond yourself simply IS the best option. Hopefully after thinking this stuff through in more detail I’ll be able to make better decisions about what I take on in the future.

Being a multipurpose person is great. No, it sucks. No, it’s great. *Sigh* Okay it’s all of the above, actually! The variety of do-it-yourself gifts I’ve ever possessed are most definitely both blessing and curse, in numerous ways.  Here I thought I’d name some curses/disadvantages you’ve likely encountered also:

  • Added stress from taking too much upon yourself.
    You usually have grand ideas how much better whatever project will look or how much money you will save, which results in piling countless projects upon yourself.  It’s hard to face the truth but honestly, your TO-DO list is half full of things that would turn out just fine if you let them go or outsourced.
  •  Friends and family find out you can do a thing, so they call on you to do their thing. Read: charity work.
    Giving of yourself to take care of other’s projects for free or very little compensation is a kind, honorable thing to do. These requests are appealing because we tend to get bored with our own ongoing projects and itch for something new. However, constantly busying yourself in other’s business always results in neglecting personal obligations – and interferes with your own artmaking. There are articles dedicated to teaching you how to set boundaries with your friends and loved ones, how to quit devaluing yourself by constantly giving out free or cheap product/service. On my list to go find them today…because I’m still in need of much learning on this one.
  • Actually taking more time, material$, and energy than you thought.
    If you’re tackling something you’ve never done before, it follows you’ll spend additional time reading instruction manuals & articles, watching tutorials, oftentimes needing to  purchase new tools, software, materials, etc. to get the job done right.
  • Not getting it right.
    Even after all the how-to study, DIY can still be a learning process and you’re probably going to make plenty of mistakes along the way. This can result in shoddy amateurish looking work.

Ah that was a rather painful recap for me. Made me think back to the many occasions I wanted to just shrivel up and die in the dark after a day’s worth of failed do-it-myselfing overload burnout. Breaking down and finally calling in the experts to do the thing won’t always make you feel better, but you can at least rest easy knowing it’s been taken care of. Give yourself a pat on the back for trying, an E for Effort, and call it a day. Better days ahead! Which brings me to…

The blessings:

  • Getting things done right when you need them, or else on your own timing.
    No need to wait in line, orders being processed, or on shipping. You can get it when you want it!
  • Being a useful multi-purpose person.
    Competence in a wide variety of jobs is a virtue in my book. The ability to wear many hats or take on many roles is a huge advantage to the self employed entrepreneur…success is always within reach!
  • Saving time and money.
    I won’t add energy to that statement because obviously, DIY is you putting your own effort and energy into getting things done. And, when you can get it done faster, cheaper and just as good as a “pro”, it’s win-win!
  • Uniqueness and customization.
    Your work stands out because you didn’t outsource to a factory like so many others did. The great charm of things made by hand with one-of-a-kind features are so loved because of their uniqueness formed from an individual’s personal touch.
  • Self confidence.
    Yes you can! Yes you can do it! Conquering tasks on your own is necessary for growth and the confidence gained is fuel to continue making and performing well.


All in all, my experience has been the blessings almost always outweigh the curses. Perhaps it’s different for you (I’m sorry!), but if it’s just a bad day and you’re feeling cursed right now I hope you’ll be encouraged knowing there’s always a flip side. I’m thankful for any and all abilities I have to operate as an independent artist, and you should be to if you’re in the same boat. Of course, covering all aspects of business operation is hard and tricky for one person alone – juggling tasks that have no creative value whatsoever can be especially maddening to the passionate artist’s soul. But no matter! You will have many many more opportunities for doing fun artsy stuff, being in a place where you really can do ya own thang!

I say one of the largest sources of joy in an artist’s business comes from performing tasks and creating things on your very own. DIY’s OWN IT and let me tell you, that’s a dang good feeling.

And that…pretty much wraps up my thoughts on another one of the joys and woes of being a DIY self employed artist.