Hi everyone. Welcome to the launch of Money Talks, a column showcasing the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings of artists and entrepreneurs living on all sides of the money spectrum. I hope as you read along you’ll promise me a few things:
- That you’ll use this column as a gentle way to foster awareness of your own beliefs and actions about money — both ones that might be helping or hindering you.
- That you won’t use anything you read to beat yourself up, compare yourself, or berate yourself. Please be compassionate with your awesome self — no matter where you are on the money path.
- That you’ll be kind to the folks who are courageous enough to tell the truth. Support them by leaving helpful and friendly comments.
It seemed only fitting to kick-off this series by hearing from Mabel’s founders themselves, Stef & Liz. It’s so brave to hang our money laundry out on the line. I’m grateful to them for stepping up — and out — this way.
1. Are you earning what you’re worth? Interesting question. It brings up the bigger question of one’s worth and putting a number on that. I value my time and it’s worth. I do a few different things to make a living and the compensation varies with each job, but I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t do things that I’m not compensated fairly for or that I don’t really love doing. So the long way to the answer is yes, I believe I’m getting paid for my worth in the sense that what people pay me for my services is worth it. Would I like to be making money on something else? Yes, but I’m not at this time.
2. What does the expression “starving artist” bring up for you? I don’t really believe in it; I think it’s a crutch that some people lean too heavily on. I see a lot of artists making money; you don’t have to be starving when you’re an artist. I believe that in order to be an artist who makes money, you also need to have the left brain skills to do that — or else surround yourself with others who are and who can help you. Really, being an artist is just like any job.
3. Do you have any childhood money stories that have to do with making a living from work you love? I don’t remember seeing very many examples of this growing up. I saw people working 9-5 jobs and making a living for their families. I don’t remember very many people doing things they seemed to love. I grew up in the Midwest and the work ethic is strong. “Loving what you do” wasn’t really around… or at least not around me.
4. What’s your biggest money story currently? I’m struggling and I have a family to support. I’m trying not to go down the rabbit hole of feeling worthlessness or being the victim, so I’m trying to stay positive and try to figure out ways to bring in more money. I’m also trying to figure out ways to better manage the money in my life. The story that I have hung on to is that “I’ve never been good with money, I love to spend it and I’m not a saver.” I sometimes have the attitude that I want to “live” now so what’s the point of saving for that “something” when tomorrow may never come? It hasn’t really gotten me to a good place and I don’t like the feelings of desperation that I have been feeling over the past few months. My intention for this year is to educate myself on better money habits, get to place where I’m making the money I need to make so I don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck, and start looking at ways to get out of debt.
5. Do you think the expression, “Do what you love and the money will follow” is accurate? Yes and no, I’ve always had a bit of a struggle with this because it doesn’t talk about the hard work you need to put behind it in order for it to work. That simple expression doesn’t talk about the paid job you have to have behind the scenes to pursue things that you love. I have responsibilities (and bills to pay) so painting all day every day or walking around taking photos all day won’t take care of those responsibilities. But I do understand that putting time and energy into something that you love may eventually bring you money. It’s all a balance. I do believe what you give energy to comes to fruition, but it’s not as simple as the statement on it’s own. I’ve had a couple of ventures where I went all in and did create from that place of doing what I loved… but again, it doesn’t happen overnight and you need to work smart. I think the expression should be, “if you work hard and smart at what you love the money will eventually follow.”
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1. Are you earning what you’re worth? I’d say it’s about half and half: some projects pay what I feel I’m worth and others don’t. That fluctuates though — if the market is booming, people are hiring designers all over the place. If it’s down, people decide they can do it themselves and not pay a designer. I also think that as I’ve grown up (personally and professionally) and as I’ve gained more experience, that I’ve learned to value my time more. I don’t take every job on offer anymore.
2. What does the expression “starving artist” bring up for you? I detest that phrase! I hate that so many people—both artists and non-artists alike—assume that either there isn’t a living to be made as creative professionals, or that as artists, we shouldn’t care about making a living. In ages past, the starving artist was this romantic notion where the artist was so consumed and dedicated to her art, that she doesn’t care about whether she starved or not. That person turned her nose up at the business side of art and generally sacrificed everything to create. Some people may still find that romantic. Not me. I want to create my work, live a comfortable life, not stress about money, and be able to pay my way.
3. Do you have any childhood money stories that have to do with making a living from work you love? I grew up in a family that didn’t ever have any excess of money. My mother was always practical, realistic, and honest with us about what we could afford and what we couldn’t. There wasn’t ever talk about what anyone loved to do, or what made one feel good about working; it was all about the practicality and reality of living and paying for what you need to in life. I don’t think that anyone ever said outright to me: “Bottom line you work to earn a living and you don’t ask whether you’re happy about it or not,” but I definitely picked up that subtle message. My parents were children of people who had come through the Depression and World War II, so they had a completely different mindset and world experience than we have today. Practical. Realistic. Bottom Line. I think that in a lot of ways my childhood money stories serve me in being practical, but in terms of taking big risks when there’s income involved? Not so much.
4. What’s your biggest money story currently? Creating a good balance between taking work that pays me well and taking work that feeds my heart and my soul. My focus is to keep the money flowing through my life.
5. Do you think the expression, “Do what you love and the money will follow” is accurate? (Would you add anything to it?) I’m not big on magical thinking when it comes to making a living. I go with what works for me and my budget, and my level of comfort and my financial responsibilities. This phrase is inspirational, but I don’t think it paints a complete picture of how you can love something and then translate that into money.
So that said, I’d re-work that phrase to read thus: “Find what you love, delve deeply to find out who you are, develop your audience, dig more deeply into who you are, figure out what your gifts are, work harder and longer hours than you ever imagined, try some new things, see what happens, experiment, ditch the things that aren’t working, keep trying, enjoy the shit out of your life, have some moments of doubt and fear, dig deeper, be willing to be honest and truthful with yourself, find some beautiful gems that bring you joy to share, be willing to toss the things that aren’t working even if you love them so so much, time will pass, you’ll be living the life you’ve chosen, sometimes you’ll love it and sometimes you’ll hate it, and if you hate it too much keep looking, keep digging, find the vein of gold inside you, oh, and… you will make some money.”