Your Passion versus Your Career

A photographer, a comedian, a painter and musician, an illustrator, and a teacher walk into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a long joke. In reality all of these creatives did not walk in together nor into a bar. Instead, each of them by invitation walked into my studio and allowed me to interview them.

The subject for the discussion with all of them focused on how artists juggle their careers and passions along with, as one of the artists put it, “Adult Responsibilities” paying bills and managing time between what they love versus their jobs and how all of it mingles together.

I selected a series of questions and then invited a few of the areas top creatives to my studio for an interview. Being that I have never interviewed anyone before I was surprised that they all where enthusiastic and willing.

I starting off with the very talented photographer Meggan Harper. Well known and accomplished in her field, Meggan specializes in newborn photography. Her photos have been published in local and international Parent Magazines and also line the walls of the Birthing Center of the Florida Hospital in her hometown of Ormond Beach.

We sat down together, I counted 3, 2, 1, pressed record, and asked the first two-part question.

When did you realize your passion and what inspired you to become dedicated to your genre in the field of arts?

Before I reveal her answer I’d like to ask you, the reader, to ponder on how you would answer the question. Regardless of rather you’re passionate in the arts or not, we all have something we love to do.

Meggan answers this question without hesitation and said “When in photographer’s school I immediately realized that I wanted to photograph newborns. I think I was lucky in that way, to know what I wanted to specialize in.”  

Andrew Ramos is a comedic improviser and host to events all over Volusia County. Andrew realized his passion and was inspired as a Junior in high school after being invited to go to a drama class. Andrew explained “the highlight of my school week was to go to the weekly improv at drama”. Mainland High, where he attended, allowed the drama class members to perform for the first time ever assembled on stage in front of an audience. “From there” he said, “I was hooked.”

Teri Althouse has a long and successful career as a faux finisher and visual artist. You can see her mastered craft locally in numerous homes and businesses. She is active in the local art fairs and markets selling her delicate flower paintings painted with alcohol inks and portraits of our four legged friends in their colorful glory. Teri recalls “I have always been involved in some kind of art but discovered faux finishing in 1990 and knew that I would make a career out of it.”

Jeremy Pappa is a fine art painter specializing in wildlife. He also plays guitar for a popular local band “Harum Scarum.”

Jeremy explained with confidence, “My passion for drawing came naturally from childhood.” He said his interest in art dated back to when he was 5 years old. As far as the guitar goes that didn’t come into play until later when he picked up a guitar and took lessons to impress a girl. He was happy to announce that in the end he liked the guitar better. Today Jeremy works full time as a painter for an international company that produces mass quantities of art for resale. “Having a full time job producing work for someone else takes a toll on my personal desire to paint in my own style” but says “I’m ok with that.”  Making time for his own work is what he considers meditation. We get to see his meditative work on occasion locally in art shows and if you ever get the chance to see him perform with his band you can see that he truly enjoys what he does with his time.

You might notice some commonality here with the answers so far. Most are very much in their younger years when they realized their passions.

Karlene McConnell is no exception, another fine artist who uses color and form with a masterful eye creating beautiful works of art that would make any room feel as if you were in a gorgeous gallery. You can see her work and several galleries throughout Volusia County. She spoke about her time as a young child, when her parents realized her interest in drawing and enrolled her into private art lessons. As an adult Karlene took up teaching art before retiring, and works primarily out of her private studio creating art. Karlene still offers classes at the Ormond Memorial Museum, and is actively showing in numerous shows throughout the area.

This next question I asked everyone really takes passion for a ride and here it is.

How do you support yourself, your family, and your passion?

This question received many different answers, and anyone who is enthusiastic about their hobby, whether you’re into collecting stamps, knitting, or building sand castles, there is always a sizable investment.

Now imagine taking what you love to do and turn into your career. All of the sudden it is not all fun and games, but that doesn’t stop the die hards whose passion ultimately identify who they are.

Artists, Musicians, Comedians, Photographers, and so on all have a burning desire to be what they are most passionate about. That is when it becomes who we are and not what we do. How do we manage the transition?

You have heard the expression, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”. The reality though is even while you love it, it doesn’t mean the ride is smooth. The hurdles are present as in any other life choices.

In the creative field the challenges have lots of variables and gambles. How ever things work out we all have to pay our bills and tend to obligations that life brings within and beyond our control.

Matt Friese, an illustrator and sketch artist specializing in wood burning with a hot stylus, explained that he was 15 when he realized his passion that lead him to attend several colleges to study various subjects within the arts. Matt moved around quite a bit before settling here in Ormond Beach where he feels most at home and is inspired by the growing art community. As of now he has two part time jobs delivering mail and pizza but aspires to move closer to obtaining a full time career doing what he loves.

Matt said in our interview, “ YOU know that you are passionate about something when it doesn’t make you any money but you keep doing it anyway.” He goes on further to say, “I would love to be a full time artist but it is challenging.”

Participating in small art fairs and markets, entering into group showings and support from his friends and other artists has encouraged Matt to stick with it. He plans on offering classes soon to supplement his income moving even closer to establishing a career that allows him to be creative.

Meggan Harper, Teri Althouse, Karlene McConnell and Jeremy Pappa have accomplished full time careers within their fields of art and give us all hope that we can do the same.

Andrew Ramos works a full time job as an activities director at a local hotel and he is able to use his comedic skills and stage presence and apply it to his job which he says makes him better at what he, with a giggle, calls his adult job.

I leave you with this next question that I asked everyone, and I would like to hear how you would respond.

What is the most difficult obstacle when it comes to staying focused on establishing or continuing your career in your passionate field of arts?

We will continue this conversation in future issues and lets get the community talking and passionate about supporting creatives and the exploding arts within our surrounding areas.

Talk to you later in the next issue of Humid Being!


Artist Angel Lowden