Identity Crisis + Remembering the Passion


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As I approach one full year since leaving my great, safe corporate job, I’ve come to realize something that has been a bit of an epiphany to myself. This epiphany would not have been realized without the amazing support system around me - my wife, Level Up Society, my parents, and my audience.

When I was making art when I was still employed, I made art because it made me feel alive. It was an outlet for things that I wanted to say and share with the world. It was unfiltered and reckless in the best possible way.

After I made the decision to pursue Tinlun Studio full-time, I knew I had to fuse being an artist with being an entrepreneur. The problem is, I never really did. I became a full-time entrepreneur, and the artist was being dragged behind me in the dirt.

My approach to the work day, decisions I make, and products that I create were influenced by an underlying “will people want this?” and “is this good for the business?” It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in that kind of thinking when so much is on the line. You’re watching your bank account shrink and you’re wondering how much more time you have to try to make this thing work. Meanwhile, sales have come to a halt and you start questioning yourself.

Long-game mindset instinctively and unknowingly turns into short-game mindset and you start trying to see how you can make a quick sale to recoup some funds. You forget about the bigger picture and what you want to build.

I started thinking about making tutorial videos on YouTube. I even bought a new camera. But it’s not my passion. I like doing it, but it doesn’t drive me. I wanted to throw a new product up in the store just because I felt like the site had been stagnant. I was forcing t-shirt designs that I didn’t truly believe in. I created a second Instagram account to showcase my products separately from my art, driven by fear of losing my audience who follows me for my art and not for my products. I created a second newsletter list because I felt bad being a salesman to my audience who follows me for behind-the-scenes insights.

But just as my art is me, my products are me. Together, they are one venture. It’s one singular passion, and I will operate as a person driven by passion - the person that I was when I realized I wanted to quit my job and make a living doing what makes me happiest. If people aren’t interested in that, then there are plenty of great lettering artists they can follow.

I’ve been steered back onto the right path. I’ll only do what I’m passionate about - what I truly believe in. I won’t worry about an expiration date on this adventure, because I know I will succeed. This is only the beginning. I’ve just got to grit my teeth and keep going.

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