Dolly Parton, Lying on the Floor
and Learning to Do It on Purpose

I was recently invited to serve on a panel discussion exploring creativity where a college student in the audience asked: “What does creativity mean to you? How do you generate new ideas?” I jokingly responded that sometimes creativity is lying on your floor for an hour agonizing over making the first move on a new project. I said this not so much to share an embarrassing moment in my process as to hopefully illustrate that being creative outside the framework of school can be hard and that there’s not always a clear path.

In my last semester of college I stumbled across an essay in The Atlantic, The Death of the Artist–and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur. The article lays out the evolution of the role of the artist throughout history as artisan to genius, genius to professional, and finally the current age of artists as creative entrepreneurs.

When you consider an artist’s job today, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the institutions which previously gave structure to an artistic career are disintegrating. I shared this realization with an old art teacher and friend who wrote back that she is “unfortunately part of a generation, like it or not, that allowed its worth to be determined by others (galleries, critics, universities).” Artists and creative professionals today are faced with the challenge of constructing the framework for their careers in a way that places value on their work and gives them worth. While at times this can seem insurmountable, I believe it is well worth the effort.

As I set out to find my niche, I sought this framework in a workplace that offered three elements: flexibilitybalance, and trust. I found this place in Kaleidoscope Management Group. Initially, I was drawn to the company because of its belief that employees should bring their whole selves to work. In addition, I have the flexibility to work on interesting, creative design projects for clients, the balance to work from my studio two days each week and, most importantly, I have the trust of my team to be a valued partner in the work I’m doing.

Dolly Parton famously said, “Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.” Discovering what you want to do, how to be an artist and figuring out the “right” job is hard. You have to cast a large net, be open to trying new things, and be willing to leave your comfort zone. It turns out I am an artist, designer and creative entrepreneur. I’m a curator and a printmaker, a fiber artist, a gardener and a small business owner (I sew portraits of guests at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs). Once you figure out what makes you feel worthy and gives you energy, you have to get up off the floor and do it on purpose.

Written by: Tucker Pierce