I believe we are creative spiritual beings, so 'art' is a natural reflection of that being. Spiritual, to me, is defined as looking for a deeper purpose in life; developing an awareness of 'reality' of life and reflecting that processes in the art work.
Art and life are one and the same, and since I am in control of the script for the movie called 'My Life', I can direct choices and edit/change whenever I want. That being said, previous choices do define present opportunities. The artist's life (although no artist can create all the time) is a creative journey. Mine is a bit different because of the 45 years spent also producing work for other sculptors. I've seen a few 'periods' of art now, learned first-hand the ins and outs of the business of the larger art world. I’ve met and worked with most of the 'top' sculptors of my generation, and now the younger generation. When reflecting on that journey, I've learned there is a difference between art and business. I have seen, through my very experienced eye, first rate artist's fail in business and the opposite to occur.
All of us as young idealist 'artists' would say the artwork is for the artist and a reflection of the artist's vision. As maturity and starvation occurs, the artwork becomes a hybrid version to satisfy both the artist and viewer (collector, gallery, commission, etc.)
For me, after the years I’ve spent doing both 'art' and 'artisan' work, there is a blurring of the lines. Some work is just for me, some work is for commission, some work is a combination of what I want to do and maybe somewhat what I think may be appealing to others. I do enjoy having the freedom of income from the atelier to not have to depend only on art sales for survival. I did that solely for 10 years, and as a single father, I really needed to level out the cash flow.
When I was solely a studio artist, I discovered that I either had time or money. What I mean is that when one receives a commission or sale, then time is required to make the work. During that process, the money is spent and the artist hopes the sales price is large enough to actually cover expenses and time required to create/produce the work.
Now with the atelier, I find I focus on either commission work, or studio work, as I desire. I also know I am much more experienced and can use that to my advantage in time management. I also have a large team of artisans at my disposal, to the tradeoff in spending my time managing the atelier is offset by having younger artisans to process the commission through the atelier.
All in all, for me, it turns out the journey is the important part, which is a self-contained inner awareness of the 'rightness' of the choices for me… even if there is no audience. Mostly just put in the time, do the work, develop your own visual language; just do it.