This has nothing to do with the Great Depression (Civilian Conservation Corps)
It has nothing do with U.S. Army’s FM 100-5 (Command, Control & Communications)
The Cyrillic acronym for “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” (CCCP) is right-out as well
“CCC”? Creative Curmudgeon Commentary!
Also known as all the stuff I wish I’d known before I took on this line or work. College gave me little-to-no preparation for the practical side of creative work nor had I any mentors when I launched “Pendrake Studio” in May of 1983. As is the case for gaining parenting skills, professional development usually meant taking the test first and then getting the lesson.
At times it was like I was playing tennis with a hand grenade for the ball – with the pin half-pulled. No one should have to work that hard or end up that crispy for a career so at times I am going to be posting additional “CCC”s relating different lessons-learned from 30+ years in what we used to call “ commercial art”
For today: Making the plunge
As a student almost every enquiry I made about getting into illustration and/or design was met with a snapped “Don’t do it!” At first my over-processing brain translated that message into “You aren’t good enough to do this” but as time went by I the correct message finally manifested itself which is “Before you commit yourself be aware of the sacrifices required if you want to succeed in this sort of life”:
- You are rarely compensated at a rate proportionate to the value of your work.
- It will soak up every minute of your time.
- It puts tremendous stress on a marriage
There are more factors, some that depend on the flavor of creative work you specialize in. Some surprise you, for example the difficulty getting back into 9-to-5 work after you’ve worked for yourself for any length of time. After the first two years I’d had it with the lack of continuity and starting sending out resumes – and was a little shocked by the responses I got back. Most of them ran something like “Thank you for applying. Your illustrations are very good but to be honest we think you are looking for full-time employment because work is scarce right now, and that you’ll leave the minute work picks back up. We can’t afford the time and expense of training you just to have you leave in a year.”
…which, I have to confess is probably what I would have done.
Would I do it all over again? It’s hard to say – there are days when I really wished I’d have kept art as a hobby instead of a job. I could have made the army a career. I could have stayed at Swanson River. There are countless “what-ifs” but there is one great big “what-was” that counterbalances them all.
When I finish something – especially something like cut-paper where I really shine – a jolt goes through me in a way nothing else will
Is it Joy? Relief? Pleasure?
I don’t know, but what I do know is that scraps of paper and a tube of glue have been transformed into something beautiful – and my hands, brain and experience made that transformation possible.
It more than makes up for any cost incurred.