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mr_mordenus
Forum Full Member


Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 379
Location: Plasticville,
 
Artist's Dilemma
Thursday, December 08 2016 @ 09:50 AM CST

SmokeyVW's thread about money and the varied, thoughtful musings that followed were an interesting parallel to a conversation I had recently with a friend. Specifically, is it better to work a 'day job' (read as: anything unrelated to your creativity that pays the bills) allowing you to apply yourself purely to your art without pressure to produce, alter or conform? Or work in your artistic field, financially supporting yourself via your art but constantly dealing with the aforementioned pressure from agents, executives, customers, etc etc?

I know this isn't an easy question and has as many shades as there are artists, but from the outside looking in, a casual observer would dismiss the first as a 'failure' whereas the second would be lauded as a 'success'. But from the inside looking out... it gets much, much more textured and individual.

Year ago, I remember a radio interview with a woman who had self-published some novels that hadn't sold much at all. She'd had zero success landing an agent or attracting the attention of a publisher, and her self-publishing ventures hadn't gone anywhere, as far as sales were concerned. She loved writing. She just couldn't make money at it. The 'failed author' thing was like a ghost that haunted her... but then, something occurred to her. She worked a 'day job' that she actually liked, and as a writer, could do exactly as she pleased. She wasn't a financial success, but as a writer, she was indulging her love and passion for writing in a way that a 'successful' writer might envy. And she realized, somewhat surprisedly, that she was happy. Quite happy.

Her story struck a very familiar chord. After I graduated high school, I went off to study animation at art school. It was 1982, and my passion and interest began to dry up in college. Long story short, I was being trained to be an in-betweener / cell painter to work in the industry working on Care Bears. Strawberry Shortcake. Smurfs. Etc. Etc. Etc. I couldn't quite stand the idea. But this was the industry then, and my dreams of creating my own work were thrown out the window. "Forget that" the instructors told me. "Seriously... forget that."

My dilemma... work at something I loved doing something I hated... or pursue art as an aside while I worked a joe-job to survive?

I left college, and set out to wander the earth. That was thirty-five years ago. Today I work as a tractor-trailer driver, an occupation that turned out to be quite interesting and challenging. (Actually, it was one of the more pragmatic decisions I ever made!) I enjoy driving and love traveling, and it pays fairly well. But the revolution of computer software that brought recording studios into our computers has put animation creation back into my hands, and I'm rediscovering the passion and talent I once felt for it. I may very well be a 'failed artist' and have been called that, since many people note that I drive a truck to make a living. I just shrug it off; day ain't over yet. But the root question I ask is... what is failure anyway? When it comes to art, music, writing... what the hell is failure? If it excites you, cranks you up, inspires you - but does not sell - are you in fact a failure at all?

I don't think so anymore. As I mentioned, this isn't an easy question and has as many shades as there are artists, and there is so much in the mix that affects everything else, but I'd be curious to hear some thoughts on this.

By the way... like the woman in the interview, I've discovered that I'm quite happy with my art where it is, and perhaps I have the better of both worlds; a 'day job' I like and a free hand to explore my art on my own schedule, on my own terms. Besides... as the character Curly said in the movie City Slickers... "'day ain't over yet."

Daugrin
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Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 1121
Location: , Extraverse
 
Re:Artist's Dilemma
Thursday, December 08 2016 @ 12:49 PM CST

The artist's dilemma is how to get paid? Naw... almost.
Artist's, musicians included, historically don't get paid appropriately.
For yer personal happiness please consider the following...
There is a long history of the starving artist. An certain impressionist painter
is perhaps the most famous personification of this meme. Ah, Vincent.
Which artists got paid? Let's examine the question since the birth of the mass commercial society. Famously, Bing Crosby got paid. Paul Whitman got paid. Brill building writers were paid. Band leaders in the 30s and 40s made big money. The owners of the record industry
got paid right up to today. Everyone else got scale? Perhaps not. Frankie Avalon a genius? Dick Clark made millions. Art Linkletter made millions selling- Geritol.
Many genius types did not get paid, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, many names, black and white skinned folks alike, we could add to this list. The list of those who never received the full economic benefits their talents merited is staggeringly long.
The digital age has not changed this arc. Why? Look to the money, follow the money, the answer is plain. Resign yourself to this truth. I suggest you will be much happier.
What did the true artist do? Obey The Muse. The artist's dilemma is actually how to obey The Muse and keep from starving to death.

Daug
J.A.Stewart
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Registered: 11/13/04
Posts: 4545
Location: Somewhere In Time, USA
 
Re:Artist's Dilemma
Saturday, December 10 2016 @ 11:23 AM CST


Life is full of trade-offs and there's no easy "one-size-fits-all" formula for "success." Each of us must find our own way to personal equilibrium, where we feel most comfortable — and satisfied. That, more than money or fame, is what truly defines success... as an artist and as a person.

If you can navigate to that place, the circumstances surrounding you make little or no difference.

MY LATEST: A demo version of my Work-In-Progress DAILY GRIND
Parichayaka
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Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 139
Location: New York, New York USA
 
Re:Artist's Dilemma
Saturday, December 10 2016 @ 01:31 PM CST

Excellent forum post. I agree with you Rik. I think it's very satisfying to have a job that pays the bills and maintain the freedom to only create music when you're inspired to. The satisfaction and joy you get is priceless and it took me many years (and a few challenging, professional music projects) to realize and appreciate that.
Parichayaka
Forum Full Member


Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 139
Location: New York, New York USA
 
Re:Artist's Dilemma
Saturday, December 10 2016 @ 01:33 PM CST

Quote by: J.A.Stewart

Life is full of trade-offs and there's no easy "one-size-fits-all" formula for "success." Each of us must find our own way to personal equilibrium, where we feel most comfortable — and satisfied. That, more than money or fame, is what truly defines success... as an artist and as a person.

If you can navigate to that place, the circumstances surrounding you make little or no difference.



Very well put.
MikeRobinson
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Registered: 08/29/11
Posts: 662
Location: Chattanooga, TN United States
 
Re:Artist's Dilemma
Monday, December 12 2016 @ 08:34 AM CST

I'm persuaded that “success in a creative effort,” when and if it comes, comes as a total surprise.   It is always best, I think, never to bank on the dream of being financially successful as a writer, a songwriter, or a musician.

Maybe the famous composer, Charles Ives, had it right:   he ran an insurance agency (which by the way made him and his partner millionaires ...), and he worked in insurance all his life, even as he wrote spectacular music.

We should also remember that many famous songwriters have a “catalog” that might contain a thousand songs ... and you’ve only heard three or four of them on the radio.   In the day, they were crankin’ them out just as fast as they could, throwing them up against the wall to see if any of them would stick.   Some writers ended their careers with not one single “hit,” but with a catalog of stuff that, in total, produces enough money to buy a new car every now and then.   (Others, unfortunately, wrote wildly-successful hits that they didn’t own.)
awigze
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Registered: 11/15/08
Posts: 2306
Location: , The Republic of Texas
 
Re:Artist's Dilemma
Monday, December 19 2016 @ 12:18 PM CST

I didn't know that you are a truck driver. I had forgotten all the other things. Let us know when you are in North Texas. There's good barbeque in Fort Worth.

Music is the master link in the chain of the tribes of mankind! -SloParts
and so it goes...
 
mr_mordenus
Forum Full Member


Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 379
Location: Plasticville,
 
Re:Artist's Dilemma
Monday, December 19 2016 @ 03:38 PM CST

Quote by: awigze
I didn't know that you are a truck driver. I had forgotten all the other things. Let us know when you are in North Texas. There's good barbeque in Fort Worth.



Mmmmmmm... I remember Texas barbecue. And Texas hospitality; my sister lived in San Antonio for twelve years. What a beautiful town.

My trucking' doesn't get that far anymore, though - I run semi local now here in New England. Paid by the hour, four day work-week and a daycab, so I sleep in a hotel, not a truck sleeper. Of course, I have to lug the freight off at a dozen stops or more, but at least it keeps me out of the all-you-can-eat truck stop buffets!

But I promise you - if I find myself in your end of the woods, I'll quite shamelessly invite myself in! (I'll show up with beverages worthy of a MacJammin' meet, tho. Smile )

Mmm... barbecue.....