I often feel very self-conscious about my artmaking, because it started when I was a very young child. Because it is something I have done for so long, it feels as though surelyeveryone else must have been doing it for this long as well. Lots of artists begin as children. In fact, many of us enjoyed artmaking in our childhoods because it's a part of childhood. Mine began when I started to admire my mother's art supplies in her basement studio. She'd graciously lead me through linoleum block printing, rubbings, collage, and paint. I'd draw. I had art supplies all around me and was not discouraged from using them (often to create maps of "my dream room" or draw jewelry designs). I made a lot of bad art.
And the camera came in middle school. I enjoyed spending my allowance money getting my film developed at the local Walgreens, and would occasionally splurge for one-hour development if I was super eager. I'd bicycle to the store in eager anticipation, and review the prints just outside the moving doors of the pharmacy. It was glorious. I made a lot of bad photographs.
So in essence my art making feels very basic to me. It feels unsophisticated, as mundane as brushing teeth. I also made a lot of ultimately worthless stuff (priceless for learning, though, I know). Because of that, and because I started very young, it is not something that feels grown up. And because it does not feel like it belongs to the grown-up world, I find it very difficult to ask other people for money for my work.
At least, for some kinds of creative work. It was easier to ask people for money for my work as a graphic designer in an office. Children don't do graphic design in offices, so yes, please hand me money! It was easier to ask for compensation as a wedding photographer, because children don't have lots of experience with weddings or know how to work within an event timeline. So yes, please hand me money!
But with printing or painting or sewing or other kinds of making, it feels very different. I used to do all of my homework and artmaking in my bedroom as a child. Right now--surprise--I'm still doing that. With design or photography, I have to go outside and do a thing and get the money and come back to the office--this makes it feel more solid, less about me. But when printmaking and painting and creating commissions, I'm transported back to my childhood of making art in the bedroom again.
And so, it feels strange to have people investing in my own work; it feels childish. I think, though, that the idea that art is childish is not an uncommon one. This is also true of musicians. It is easier to see a scientist wearing a lab coat and fancy equipment as some serious undertaking. It is harder for our culture to see simple processes, even invisible ones, as of equal value to those that require more complicated equipment or processes.
And so every day I have to get up and treat my art like the serious thing it is, because it is, even though I started young.