BZTAT, Paul Gaugin, and the Dream Career Change

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Today’s post is written by BZTAT who specializes in whimsical drawings, paintings and prints of cats, dogs and other companion animals. BZTAT creates colorful customized pet portraits, which are unique in their original contemporary style. BZ is an accomplished artist as well as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. She has worked as a child and family therapist since 1991. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Do you know who Paul Gaugin was? He was the artist who gave up his family and job as a stockbroker to go to Tahiti and paint naked ladies on the beach.

Many successful yet disillusioned businessmen look longingly at Gaugin’s paintings, dreaming of giving up their current lives in search of a deserted island where they can go paint or write or do some other creative art. Women often have a similar desire to leave it all behind to do that creative thing they always wanted to do.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life as an almost-former-professional-clinical- counselor-turned-full-time-artist.

I just think you need to know, there is no beach at my studio, and my life is not some kind of dreamy creative fantasy. Life as a professional artist, writer, actor, etc. is not as romantic as it may seem.

Today’s artists must be creative entrepreneurs engaged in the world of business, not wistful dreamers casually painting on the seashore. Giving up your career to explore an art could land you right back where you started instead of giving you the freedom to create to your heart’s desire.

When people want to give up an existing career to explore a creative passion, I often think that they are seeking the two A’s — autonomy and authenticity — more than they are looking to pursue a creative impulse. Many people feel like their jobs sap them of their soul, and they think that making a career of their passion will bring it back to them.

It could do that, but you could also end up losing your soul in the process of making your passion your job.

We all want to make our own rules, and most of us want to be genuine. But we don’t have to leave our current vocations to have that. If you are looking for the two A’s, you can find that anywhere. Amanda Hite pushes this idea unapologetically all the time.

You need to develop autonomy and authenticity within yourself, not go looking for it somewhere else. The two A’s are not static, either. You need to constantly reevaluate where you stand with them.

Art is how I pursue the two A’s, but it is not like the vocation is any more authentic than any other career. No career gives them to you on a silver platter.

To me art is a dialog—a visual communication between artist and viewer that transcends verbal discussion. It is engagement with the canvas and with life—with people, with concepts, with comedies and tragedies and all of human experience. It is authenticity in its purest form for me, even when the content of the work is pure fantasy.

What do the two A’s mean to you? Do you want to make your creative passion your job, or are you instead looking for meaningful dialog in your world? How do you seek autonomy and authenticity?

Did you know that Gaugin died of syphilis? How authentic was that?

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