My son Jon is an established tattoo artist in San Luis Obispo, California. I remembered seeing him on a visit to San Diego fourteen years ago and thinking, “This boy has more tattoos that Carter has little liver pills. I hope it doesn’t interfere with his career later in life.” At the time I was rolling high in the construction industry and considered the tattoo industry as a poor way to make a living, if that was indeed possible.
The economic crash of 2008 changed everything. Construction became a dinosaur and I went on unemployment for the first time in my 50-year career while Jon just kept on inking and making money.
The irony was not lost on me and I decided to become an author and write murder mysteries. When I e-mailed Jon about my decision, the following incredible response was forthcoming.
Jonny wrote: “For you, Pops, I would say that becoming an author would be the transition between craftsman and artist…same as I once did…. Being a craftsman is an awesome thing and a stable thing. If you are good at it, you will have a good life, probably make a good living….
Making that leap into BEING an artist is scary, unstable, but thrilling. It’s not easy making a living this way because to me money is just paper (well cotton-based paper, but you know what I’m saying)… cool art printed on nothing but paper… no substance other than what I put on it….
I might have lost my mind or maybe I just took the blue pill a long time ago, but all I know is if I have to go to work every day to make “paper” to live on this planet, I’d rather do it by just selling “me”… what I “do” or “think” or “record” or “draw” or “ink” or “whatever”…But you have to do what YOU DO and trust in the fact that if it’s good enough other people will see it too….
Honestly I don’t think most people will really get me or what I’m trying to do art wise until 10 years after I’m dead and that’s just the way I like it. I will always be a little more infamous than famous and to me that’s the true mark of living on the edge and being a good artist.”
This note from Jon amazed me and enabled me to break away from a long family tradition of working for the man and saving my money. For the first time in my life, I was not going to worry about the eight to five rituals and set my own hours doing what had appealed to me for decades.
I had support from my wonderful wife, but the note from Jon finalized the deal. I became a published author with a trilogy and self-help books under my belt. I regret nothing about this change and I realize the reason I didn’t do it earlier was because I didn’t trust myself without the stability of construction work. I now understand the stability is doing what you love to do. Going to work at 3: 00 a.m. to write exciting chapters of a murder mystery thrills me to no end.
Thank you, Son, for your words of wisdom. I no longer need to bust butt on some construction job – instead, I get to travel the recesses of my mind. Oh, my…what I have found there!
I’m just saying,