The Art of Finance

The women ahead of me who lead the way as artists are barely getting by. But they would never let you know that they were barely existing.
(photo by Sarah Whiting)

In high school I realized there were four options for me: teaching, nursing, secretarial work, or marrying well. I wanted to be an astronaut. After an early career in education, I decided to go to art school and began designing high-end jewelry for a small company. I was doing what I loved, but my wages were not allowing me to thrive. I prioritized expressing my gifts first, acquiring and mastering skills second, and wages third. It was the only flow I knew. I realized I had a high tolerance for low pay.

Later, I also started a private practice in energy work. I totally committed to the entrepreneurial path. To work for myself, I knew I would need to be empowered in both the creative and business worlds, building a bridge between an apparent divide.

However, there were no financial guidelines for earning. I turned to women empowerment forums and small business coaches for help. I read books on becoming an entrepreneur. I took it seriously.

Creatives, and those who work in holistic fields, can often get owned, controlled, exploited, or denied if they don’t do business wisely. I also learned that business needs creative and holistic approaches in order to stimulate growth and evolve. It can be a mutually respectful, dynamic partnership.

To make this journey, I needed a map. I found one that  corresponds to Maslow’s hierarchy  of needs. The base of the pyramid is our basic financial needs for our physical safety and wellbeing. The second level is financially maintaining one’s lifestyle.

One pothole I didn’t expect was bad advice from “experts.” This led to troubling conditions I would realize later.

I learned that you can be an under-earner or an over-earner, which can manifest in a state of deprivation or hustle. I did not want either. I wanted a middle — a flow. I learned to gather advice, run it past people I trust, then trust and own my power.

The creative, entrepreneurial path has taken me on a journey of self empowerment. I embrace the adventure, and the self mastery it has afforded me. I am grateful for this journey.

Leni Erickson (she/her) is an artist and a holistic educator.