Artistry is a funny thing.
Many people fail to make art for the long-haul—either due to financial constraints, personal frustrations, or some flavor of existential dread. When you’re in the thick of it, making as many things as you possibly can, the rhythms seem so obvious to the outside spectator. The sheer quantity of work lets people have enough data to pattern recognize: They see your work out in the wild and start to recognize the style.
But before long, the exuberant artist is faced with a choice: Continue in the same vein of practice, aiming to achieve a mastery that many only fantasize about—or continue to innovate, practice, try new things, and ultimately sacrifice that first glimmer of recognition for personal satisfaction. It’s a shame really, that artists must make this choice. Sure, humans are complex and nuanced, so surely they could do both? Unfortunately not. Acting on two opposing professional paths simultaneously will fragment the art (or the artist), leading the failure on both fronts.
That’s why I rather like the idea of separating things as a professional: the thing you’re known for becomes even stronger as you specialize and go deep into that chasm, getting paid properly the better you get. All the while, you’re free to explore your every whimsy; leave no stone unturned as you explore your inner creative self, unprofessionally, unapologetically, and without fear of losing that precious recognition.
Find harmony in this balance. Let your mastery pay the bills while your inner child is free to play. Be willing to challenge what traditional paths look like, as you venture into this brave new world of professional artists (who happen to be human).