By Julia Niemczynowska

I’ve always dreamt of the freedom that winning the lottery might provide. I even made a list of what I would do if that miracle came to pass (I like lists).

It went something like:

– do art for a living

– travel the world

– go camping every weekend

– get a giant, floppy, bear of a dog

– become a certified yoga instructor (willfully ignoring the fact that I can barely touch my toes!)

I’d toyed with the idea of making art professionally for some time, but making a living from it seemed as realistic as climbing Mt. Everest in a swimsuit. But…the lottery idea…while I’d considered money my biggest obstacle, excuses for not doing art piled up and became ostensibly unclimbable. It took me the better part of a decade to realize my walls were self-made. I’d been denying myself something that comes to me as naturally as making a cup of coffee. Without this outlet I get cranky and the jitters set in, followed by intense withdrawal symptoms. Whereas when I’m creating, I go into flow. I forget about the world. Time flies.

In his last lecture, late Carnegie Mellon University professor, Randy Pausch said something along the lines of: “walls are there for a reason. {…} not there to keep us out. The walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”

I broke it down for myself in the crudest way—I had two choices: 1) to start spending two quid every week and hope someday I would be the one in a gazillion to win someone else’s money while doing someone else’s job while watching my mind go and my boobs start to sag, or 2) I could try doing what I love (and my boobs will still sag …).

I also woke up to the fact that in non-monetary ways, I am absurdly rich: I have resources that money can’t buy. I have the truly great privilege of a safety net of friends and family who are supportive of my creativity and a partner who keeps reminding me of why I do this and who doesn’t mind that our minuscule flat is inundated with tools, clay, and paint.

The reality is, like most businesses, it’s not impossible but it takes time to build up any project – and hopefully in the meantime, I won’t end up broke and living under a bridge.

In a few years, I plan to adopt that giant, floppy, bear of a dog and might even touch my toes!

So this begs the question: if money were no obstacle, what would you be doing with your time?


Julia Niemczynowska is a Montreal-born, Bristol-based artist, who works primarily with clay. You can find more information on Julia’s art on her website and facebook page.

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