Guest Post by Carin Winkelman: The Non-Professional Artist

Life is filled with synchronicity, or at least with things that *seem* to be about synchronicity. Yeah, I know that some people believe there’s no such thing, that things just seem to appear at the same time because we’re suddenly aware of something that’s been there all along, or because we’re seeking out stuff that, in the past, we might have ignored. Whatever: I love it when little bits and pieces begin to fit together and enrich each other. I have been doing a lot of weeding out and clearing out to try and simplify my life so that I have more time to do the things I love–and in my case, that includes the work I do. Suddenly, it seems everyone else is thinking about the same things–making more space, more time, more energy for, well, for *making.* I love it, and I especially love what my friend Carin has been doing. She wrote a guest post for us here, and you can read about it in more detail on her blog, here.


The Non-professional Artist


They say that when you want to live your dream, you should imagine what you would do if money were no object, then figure out a way to turn that into paying work and you will have a dream career. But what if making money with your passion isn’t your dream, or rather, what if when money does become an object it kind of ruins things for you? And why does a passion have to lead to a job anyway? Why can’t we just seek joy for joy’s sake?

Freeman-Zachery Carin Winkelman crayons

I think all wannabe professional artists have this wonderful vision in their heads of day after day in the studio splashing paint around, playing with their materials and enjoying the creative life with a big smile on their face. Just play play play. The carefree bohemian life! Most professional artist’s lives are not like that at all. It’s hard work making a living doing what you love and a lot of time is spent on doing what you might not love so much in order to sell the stuff you love making or trying to teach it to others. And that’s where the trouble lies for me. I’m not a salesperson and I’m not a teacher. I’m not a business woman either.

Freeman-Zachery Carin Winkelman tapes

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the difference between making a living doing what you love and having a life filled with what you love. I think it’s because I have decided to work less in order to have more time for my passions, which are art, writing, photography, reading and going on long walks. Because I’ve learned not to be too shy about my passions (that took me some time by the way) of course people around me know about them and the first thing they ask is always something like ‘Are you going to try to start an artsy business?’ or ‘Will you try to make money with your art now?’ The answer is a simple ‘no!’


I am slowly understanding that there is far more interesting question to ask than “What would you like to do for a living?” and it’s “How would you like to live?”  The first question I cannot answer very well. In my life I usually settle for a job in a small organisation where I like my co-workers and have a bit of variety and security and no overload of stress. That way I don’t take the job home with me and can have a good laugh at the office from time to time because it’s fun to be there. Work provides an income and should be a good place to be, but it’s still work, let’s not make it bigger and more important than it is.

Freeman-Zachery Carin Winkelman pencils

But the second question…aah…now there’s the thing! Simply put I want to do all the things I love (see above) whenever I feel like them. No strings attached. In fact, that’s pretty much how I spend my days when I’m off work. My only wish has always been to have as much time as possible for my passions. And the cool thing is, when I do them, I don’t have to worry about making a living with these things. I don’t have to stress out if something will be attractive to customers or the general public. I can just share it on my blog and whoever likes it likes it and who doesn’t is allowed to move on without any pressure on me.


I can walk for miles and take as many pictures as I want and not have to worry about what their purpose is, because the actual doing IS the purpose for me. For me any need for recognition or making money (and I’m no stranger to the concept, believe me) is a matter of ego and proving myself, I’m not even sure what. But if I let go of those things and just enjoy my favourite pastimes then I can be happy without any attached stress.


And that’s how I want to live. To simply enjoy things I love doing and have as much time as possible to do them. It’s nothing earth shattering really, it won’t make me famous and most people will not be impressed. But I just wanted to tell you that simply enjoying arts and crafts without big ambitions is okay. In fact, it’s a perfect ambition in itself. And just so you know: I intend to be an expert at being a non-professional!

You can see more of Carin’s posts on her blog. Here’s the post with more details about her new work-and-life adjustments.

You can read other guest posts by Carin here and here.


Creative Time and SpaceIf you’re thinking of ways to make more time and space for making what you love, check out Creative Time and Space.

Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.




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4 Responses to Guest Post by Carin Winkelman: The Non-Professional Artist

  1. Great article – we *CAN* make things just because we want to and for NO other reason! Good luck in your journey Carin!

  2. Susan Johnson says:

    I linked to Carin’s orginal blog post from the Voodoo Cafe post several weeks ago. It really touched a chord with me. Yesterday I saw a friend that has an artistic bent and showed her some of the art I have been making over the last month. She actually liked several of the pieces and immediately indicated that I should make them bigger and try to find a market for them. I did not have the courage to say NO as Carin does. But it is what I felt. Yes it is nice if people like what you do, but I made it because it made me feel good about myself. So a big AMEN to Carin. And to Ricë for finding and sharing Carin with the rest of us.

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      I’m glad you’re finding your way, Susan–you’ll be able to say “Thank you, but no,” before long. You can be inspired at Carin’s blog–she’s a great inspiration, and I’m always delighted when she agrees to share a guest post with her own perspective. XO

  3. Caatje says:

    Thank you all so much for your sweet comments! I’m just glad that what I write speaks to some people. It’s good to know I’m not alone in this perspective on art making.