I didn’t grow up wanting to be a photographer. I dropped photography class in my second year of high school. I dropped art all together, actually. No more drawing, no more charcoal, no more creative things that would never or could never pay the bills. I can still remember the day I decided to believe what everyone was telling me about my financial future - I was in art class and the art teach had just ruined a charcoal portrait I was working on.

Fast forward 12 years and I’m writing an article about being a full time artist and photographer and teaching all the business to other artists.

Ice Cave With A View by jasonmatias

In between then and now I’ve been an Airman in the USAF building bombs and missiles in the arctic tundra. I wrote technical instructions for a civilian aircraft manufacturer, I worked quality assurance in a plastics manufacturing plant, binded books in a bindery, and, like I mentioned in my TEDx Talk above, made boxes in a popcorn factory.

Becoming a photographer is not a linear career path. It is not one of those of plotted courses that lead you from high school to college and through your senior promotion. If you want to get there you’re going to have to weather some storms and some dry spells.

Tree of Fire by jasonmatias

You can’t make the leap into full time creativity until you’ve developed something that people will give you money for. I’ll say it again: if you want to become a full time artist/photographer you need to be creating images that people will pay you for. Everything I read about biding your time in your current career before taking the leap into a full time career in photography focuses on how much you need to earn. I think all those people focus on the wrong thing. If you focus on the ends instead of the means the journey will be longer and you will misstep... a lot.

Dance by jasonmatias

My advice is: don’t focus on earning a living. Instead, focus on creating something worthy of the living you aim to make. Focus on the art and you can build the business as it comes. Create with intention and purpose. This work is the journey all those memes talk about enjoying. It’s the beginning but it is vitally important that you focus on the art now so that you can flourish later. Then, one day, you’ll have an articulate vision and story to share and you’ll find yourself on a stage sharing it with the world.

First Light by jasonmatias

Bio: Jason Matias is photographer and founder of The Art of Selling Art. His work can be seen in galleries in NYC and Miami. Jason spends most of his time brooding over his computer but has fits of creative inspiration now and again. You can find his work at www.jasonmatias.com and find him on social media @realjasonmatias & @theartofsellingart