The Artist’s Plight

How can you choose between a steady paycheck and investing your soul into creating something great?

I won’t even bother going off on the cliched ‘follow your passion’ bullshit. It is acutely more complicated than that.

There’s no reason that a normal job can’t be immensely rewarding. Lots of commonplace, plain jobs help others. Some occupations are satisfying because they take full advantage of natural skills or allow achievement through hard work. If I’m fucking great at analyzing markets, then being on wall street could make me just chipper.

There’s also the simple consolation of security – money every single week.

Doesn’t that sound great?

Even if you don’t love your mundane cubicle job, there’s the priceless assuagement of being able to go home and pursue other interests – no strings attached. You can sketch, or blog, or write music without agonizing over if you’re talent is enough to pay the bills. You can enjoy your hobbies rather than depending on them. You can avoid coming to bitterly resent what you once loved in the event that your restaurant, paintings, poetry, CDs, and books don’t make bank.

Worse still, It’s not like making art is easy. A staggering amount of labor goes into anything remunerative. It is so incredibly disheartening when your work doesn’t measure up to your own standards. The heaps of rejection that come with being an artist can easily murder the prospects of ‘loving what you do’.

I hate mentioning the ‘e’ word, but I can’t help but feel stiffed. I keep waiting for people to start spending money like its 1996  (props Clinton) so I can feel less terrified of taking risks but it just doesn’t happen.

I worry the only reason I want to be an author is because if I’m successful I could strike it rich.

No matter how much I like my job and my art, I don’t think I’ll ever like it as much as a dinner at the local brasserie, a trip to the art museum, reading a nice book, and going out for some theatre or art house cinema. I like enjoying art more than making it, so maybe I should stick with a steady job that will ensure I can enjoy it.

Despite all that, my post graduation plan is still to move to Seattle, wait tables and write my heart out for as long as I can.

Speaking of art, here is some fantastic sculpture:

cereal killer

More by Terry Border

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6 Responses to The Artist’s Plight

  1. Can I just say that I was in the same place you are in … but 20 years ago? Keep doing your art, your writing, your craft. Keep being true to yourself. Make time and be diligent. Make a routine of your work and don’t stop. After graduating NYU I moved to San Francisco and worked at a health food store and wrote my ass off. Sounds similar, eh? Commit to yourself as a serious artist and that’s the only way to do it. Loved this post!

  2. Thanks, that really brightened my day 🙂

  3. You said exactly how I have been feeling re: creating for $$$, Thanks for subscribing to my journal.

  4. thecrackshotcrackpot says:

    Hello. I came over to your blog in order to reprimand you for your boorish behavior the other day, and to point you in the direction of my response. Alas, much to my chagrin, I have discovered that you are an “artist”…

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