Thursday, October 13, 2011

Keeping or quitting your day job

I am curious, regarding the idea of Keeping or Quitting your day job how, EM members refer to their work and define themselves. Some people refer to themselves as, artists. While others may call themselves a craftsperson, Maker, jeweler, dabbler, etc. Some may even prefer no definition.
For some of us a 'day job' is necessary to keep a studio space outside of our homes, maintain supplies, food in our stomaches, etc., etc. Some people that have work (day/night jobs) aside from their creative pursuits often hope or dream of a time when these creative pursuits will be able to take centre stage.

Etsy Metal members share their stories of the work they love, sacrifices made (or not made) in being artists, metalsmiths, makers, etc. This series is about achieving a fundamental sense of fulfillment and purpose, of finding your place in a community of your peers. It's about sharing the truth of what it is to be an artist in the 21st century, in all of its forms. We all walk different paths in the expression of our work, yet we came together through Etsy.
• • • •
Creator and founder of the Facebook and Etsy group, Metalsmith's Unite. With a personal blog description that reads: Artist/Metalsmith/Maker, Tucson desert dweller, wildflower gardener, occasional Florentine (by marriage). Passionate to a fault, language of a truck driver at times (in English and Italian)... typical Leo; lots of roar + purr... I leave the gazelles to graze on their own.
Maureen BZ also known as Cosmo's Moon, is a strong creative force!

EM: How do you define yourself? For instance, do you refer to yourself as an Artist, Maker, Silversmith, Metalsmith, Goldsmith, Truck Driver or Jeweler?
CM: I call myself a metalsmithing artist

EM: Would you [do you] describe your work as Art, Craft, Jewelry, or are there different categories dependent upon outlet/venue, mood?
CM: yes yes yes :-) Oh, I do a range of work- from highly crafted original jewelry (with stones and the bells and whistles) Which is what I sell through my primary shop Cosmo’s Moon ( ). To handmade pewter box constructions that I make to stretch my wings a little: working with a piece for a longer time to let them really develop..and then I have an eccentric/experimental side which is when I really let my artist run wild and true.
I believe keeping myself open to do a range of work helps keep my design ideas fresh and all of my studio time fascinating and fun.

EM: Do you have a day job, part time job or is being a(n) {fill in the blank} your full time job?
CM: Yes, I have a few day jobs.
I currently subcontract as a goldsmith for a small boulder opal company. Basically, I do piecework. I create the settings and do all the gold work for them. I get paid per solder join, which is great for me because I am pretty fast. It’s also great for keeping my fine jewelry skills sharp. I work at home- in my studio- and am responsible for collecting gold scrap and quality checking all of my work.
I also am on staff as one of the metalsmithing instructors for the City of Tucson- so I teach during the busy season- once a week. I am also available for teaching 1-3 day workshops in many different subjects, from pewter and nonferrous metal skills to design and creativity. I love teaching- I’m such a typical Leo- very comfortable on stage :-)
Look, I’m really lucky- my husband has a really good job at the University (he’s a physicist, works in telescopes- it’s why we live in Tucson) so I must admit that the stability of his income has played a big part as my career has developed. I am so grateful that I’ve had his support!

EM: What sacrifices have you made (do you feel you’ve made or still make) in order to pursue creating/making your work?
CM: Well, I don’t get manicures! LOL.
Seriously, number one for me is my responsibilities as a Mother to an amazing kid. If I do that well I feel that all is well with the world.
I try not to sacrifice anything important but, that’s what I decide is important in my life. We are a one car family- we live simply- have a vegetable garden that fulfills it’s duties as a gym, a shrink and a grocery store...and I am a black tee shirt and skirt kind of gal- If I need something “wow” I put on a piece of jewelry. I’m really a fan of a simple lifestyle.

However, I must say that about 12 years ago I had a dramatic event that forced me to make a decision to focus my talents and channel my creative energies- Most of my young adulthood I was torn between two passions- Horses and Art. I had an awakening due to a medical scare that really made me look at my life choices and decide what I was going to pursue with 100% passion and dedication- and the Art side of me won out. I simply couldn’t stretch time enough to do continue with both and to maintain the level I expect of my riding or metalwork.
I have a dream to own a few horses in about 10 years or so, but I don’t want to do much more than bop around on trails and do an occasional fun show or two. There’s nothing like the outside of a horse to do good for the inside of a person :-)

EM: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself or someone considering a similar path knowing what you know now?
CM: I would advise anyone going into this business to get excellent training - and if possible try to get an apprenticeship with a local jeweler. Your skills will develop fast with daily practice and you can learn about the business while working- and formulate your ideas about how you want to proceed with your career.

EM: Is there anything else you would like to share?
CM: Sure- I will say that even with my relatively secure position that, this business is never easy. It takes dedication on all levels - at the client meetings, making sure you create what the client dreams the bench, creating the piece with the focus and skills needed to have outstanding craftsmanship...and in the office, writing descriptions, booking shows, writing blog posts, being a photographer, keeping up with inventory and updating websites.
You have to be a little bit crazy to want to take all of this on and a lot crazy not to love every bit of the challenges and thrills of being a professional metalsmithing artist!

LOL, That's for certain! Thanks Maureen!
Make sure to visit Cosmo's Moon on Etsy!


Anonymous said...

Love this article. Thanks for the suggestion to train under a local jeweler. I am really lucky to be studying under David Clemons, he spoke at SNAG in Seattle.

I just recently quit my day job, and I have a part-time job doing web-site management for the Bernice Garden, a sculpture garden in Little Rock AR. It's paying the bills, supporting the community, and is more rewarding than my previous job.

But I'm still in school though, so after this next year, I'll be looking at doing things differently. I'm still feeling out my product lines for my etsy store.

I appreciate all the information in this article. Thank you!
CreativeCloudDesigns on Etsy

LjB said...

Love the article, I dream of quiting my day job everyday, hopefully my dream will come true one day:-))

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