Have you ever heard yourself saying these things?
“I never went to school for art”
“I’m not talented”
“I have no time for Artwork because I have a full-time job”
“If I could just quit my day job and do art all day, I would.”
“I wish I could quit my job and just write all day.”
“I love my job I am in now, that’s why I quit creating art and now just analytical and career oriented.”
Stop, right there. Let’s just take a moment to look at what the artist is supposed to be.
What is an artist to you?
The above excuses validate the identity that an artist is an airy, introverted, dedicated creative, who by popular imagination, gets to create all day and has endless streams of money for their lifestyle. As reward for her talent, she doesn’t have to work hard for money, and it is corruptible to think an artist should work. It’s as if the artist themselves will tear at the seams, combust, become human like us which is all the more reason any sane artist is avoiding the office, prancing around in fields with fairies, painting, and avoiding any and all claims to work or hustle.
Now, I am all for prancing in fields with fairies, but there comes a point where I need to ground into this reality. To become human.
If you are thinking to yourself, “Oh Mel, every good artist is an alien and sent from a different dimension to elevate us”, I hate to burst your bubble, but those artists are just better at concealing their humanity.
And whether they are human or not (a totally different rant for a different day),
Artist’s missions are here to observe humanity and report on it.
Even the one’s painting blue canvases are reporting something about being human.
Artistic success is not defined by getting money for my art and it is not the end of the world when I have to go into the office.
If anything, I feel much like William Carlos Williams, my day job is a palette cleanser for my art life. The Poet Doctor, in his 1967 autobiography, stated that his day job and art work were “two parts of a whole. It is not two jobs at all… one rests the man when the other fatigues him.”
During the day, I myself am a business coach and human resources operations analyst for a cyber security company. All day long, I discuss the benefits of meditation, wellness, challenging employees to take walks on their breaks, bring down their blood pressure, how to streamline processes in administration work, update executives on new ways to communicate with their employees or communicate better, discuss the legality of a situation, voice their story within their marketing campaigns, etc. My boss calls me Trixie, the Unicorn Wrangler. I am here to support a vision of a company and be analytical, masculine. My intention every day is to bring my shiny sparkly self into a corporate world of serious titans. They need me as much as I need them.
My day job cleanses my soul and integrates the masculine parts of me to prep for the creativity I will later practice.
And honestly, I don’t know a single artist that doesn’t have two jobs. Some teach, some do admin work for their creative business, some are creative coaches, or have completely different professions for their career. Some have a full-time job living with their illness or are stay at home moms. There is no artist out there that is just sitting in a room all day isolated, shoving out artwork or writings without any such connection to humanity. We all work.
My day job removes me from the otherwise anxious world of my imagination.
When I walk into the office, I am there to learn how to run a business, strategize, improve communication, connect with people, listen to their woes, their stories about their lives, and the struggles they have in modern day. I am here to witness the escalation of technology within our lives and the modern-day topics on how to face the rise of the digital world. I am there to observe the human perspective and the digital perspective. I cannot do this from my studio, but what I observe, learn, and record returns with me to the studio and allows for me to create and unfold books and artworks in an organized manner. It allows me to take a break from obsessing over my vision and see myself from a different angle. It brings me back to the real world. It cleanses my palette.
So, I would say that I am on the side of the belief that we as artists must find ways to accept our human sides, allow them to unfold and do a service to this world. I believe that we have multiple passions and hopefully, you have found that passion in your day job. If not, you have a found a way to integrate the other wise masculine world of working into your creative practice. You have found ways to inspire yourself from your everyday interactions with the human struggles of work.
I am inspired everyday I go to work because I know I am in a position to grow, learn, and observe.
What do you do for work when you aren’t creating?