Over the weekend, I had what I consider to be a dangerous and disturbing conversation in what I consider to be a trend of dangerous and disturbing conversations of late.
It always starts the same way:
I mention that I am an artist and that one day, ideally I’d like to make a living that way.
The person freezes for a moment to process and then the person I’m talking to gets that look.
The you are a moron look, what the hell is wrong with you look.
Followed by 12 seconds of “Oooooooooh…..”
“Do you know how hard it is? You will be poor for the rest of your life. How delusional are you? “
In short, you want to be an artist, what the hell is wrong with you?
I have had friends whose parents destroyed their art, threw away their note books and told them in no uncertain terms, if they want to be an artist, they won’t have parents.
My question is why? Because it’s hard and a waste of time? Because I won’t make it.
Well to that I say…..
Life is hard.
Being a doctor is hard. Most things worth pursuing are hard. Does this mean you shouldn’t give it a try? And what if you don’t make it nationally, if you are only a local artist, or don’t make it until you are dead? What is making it anyway? If it it a fulfilling hobby that isn’t harmful to a person, shouldn’t it be encouraged.
I am reminded of my teen years, when my friends and I used to get in trouble with the cops because we would walk around town starring at stars (mine you we were 18 and had no state curfew) and discussing life’s mysteries. Still, every time would walk around, the cops would pull over and hassle us. This enraged me because I came from a small town and they knew us. We could have been drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around, things that may be harmful to a person, instead, we spent our time productively exploring the universe.Still, because we were easy to harass. We were docile and available.
It’s the same with art. I could be doing a hundred different destructive things with my life but instead, I decided to channel my life in a productive way. What is so wrong with that?Some people play DnD.Some people build cars.I write.
Life and worth isn’t based on money.
Hey I get it, you need money to live. And having a stable job does make it easier. However, many artist, most artist, such as I, do have a full-time job. We make money during the day and at night and on weekend, we are warriors, typing away in our dungeons.
But if I, an adult, decide with my life to pursue art with no thought of money, isn’t that my choice to make? Does accumulating wealth make life more worth-while?
Should people never be missionaries, nuns or priests because they don’t make money? What you contribute to this world, I hope can be measure in more than dollars and cents.
Art isn’t about money.
I was a college athletic. And let me tell you, by the time you reach college, playing sports becomes a lot less fun. You have no free time, between class, practice, conditioning and games. You come home late at night from a game and have to stay up for hours doing homework then have to wake up early for practice or class. And repeat day after day.
There are times you hate it, hate the thing that once drove you.
But you do it. Because in the end, you love the sport. It’s part of you.
It’s the same with art. Being an artist isn’t always fun. It’s a huge time contribution with little or no payoff. And don’t get me started on the rejection…..
But, even if I never tried to have a single thing published, I would continue to be an artist until the day I die. It’s part of who I am. I could stop as easily as you could stop breathing. And if I don’t write, I feel an emptiness inside, a nagging voice that is screaming for me for release.
Art is a beautiful thing. It lets know to look into the void and scream, you are not alone. I hear you. I see you. I feel what you feel.
So yes, I do know it’s hard.
I know I might not ever make money and that I might not ever be famous.
And I’d have it no other way.
And I’m ok with that. Have a little faith in me. I know what I need to do to feel fulfilled in this life.