Those of you who pop in here all the time have probably grown used to me starting off my day with some very serious rant about framing or model releases or how there really is a severe Compact Flash shortage in the world (sure, don’t believe me on that one! You try hunting those little cards in the wild. Hard to spot in the jungle, let me tell you.) Today’s topic is going to be, well, different from that. Today I’m going to talk about laziness.
It’s a lot of work being an artist. It’s a lot of work, we have a lot of things to do, there are many items to complete, “to do” lists to conquer, and just plain not enough hours in the day. Couple that with a case of “gee, it’s cold outside today!” and, what do you get? Bed. Beds like this one. Yes, indeed, today, I have to admit it, I’d much rather be sleeping. I’d much rather be sleeping then going out, lugging along a heavy camera, or dipping some messy items into molten hot wax. I don’t want to get my fingers all dirty smudging around some pastels. Today, I really, really want to sleep. SLEEP. I want to take to my bed. But, alas, I can’t. I have too much to do.
As an artist, I always feel like I don’t do enough. Like there are not enough hours in the day, I always have more to do. You can send your work out infinitely, really you can. There are a million places you can always send your work out, a million model releases to file and, heck after all that, if you’re still bored, why you can always sit down at the computer and order more Compact Flash. There’s lighting to diddle with and shots to sketch, paperwork that must be done, heck my studio is not the most organized of places these days (Now, where exactly did I put those foam brushes that I need. Hmmmm…) I could also be editing and posting additional shots. Many of you complain about how I have yet to post a complete set from Iceland. I have yet to do that. I have also yet to post a complete set from New Orleans, from Venice, from my recent trip into the woods. There’s lots of stuff. I have tons of things to do, and tons of things I could be doing at any given moment of any given day. Really, we artist and photographer types, we’re a busy lot, trust me on this one. If all of that weren’t enough, I still have to take more pictures, yes I do. Makes you almost wonder how I find time to do that, seeing as I have so much other stuff I need to do, doesn’t it?
Many of my friends, well maybe some of my friends might describe me as “hard-working.” I like to think that I am. In fact, I like to think that I can really buckle down and get things done, knock things out when I really apply myself. The trouble with that is that I’m really a lot lazier than I look. There are times, there are days, when I really don’t even feel like getting up and getting out of bed. Really, I don’t. It’s just so hard to get even the slightest bit motivated to do even the simplest of things. I want to hit the snooze button over and over again instead of doing anything, really I do. Lounge around the house much? Yup, that’s me. I’ve got a friend who calls this a “house slug” day. Yes, you can call it that. I like to think of it as “taking to my bed.” Not that I’m sick or anything, just that, well, I feel like I could really use a day off, a day away from everything. Like I want to curl up and read a good book instead of doing any of this.
This weekend, I had some big plans. I was going to do some great giant pastels and they were going to change the world! Everybody was going to see them because, after I did them of course, I was going to photograph them and post them on the Internets for all to see, yes I was. I was not only going to post them, I was going to enter them into a local show. I even had plans to frame them and make them look extra pretty. Oh, it was going to be great. Of course, they exist now only in my mind but, I have to say, they are looking pretty buff even if they exist only in my head (for now.) At some point, I promise, I’ll do them yet. You just wait and see. And I’ll show them to you, I swear I will. You’ll get to see them too, I promise. Well, as soon as I start them anyway. (They’ve been bouncing around in my brains for a few months now, I really need to do something to get them out of there, don’t I?)
But, what did I do this weekend instead?
Curl up with a book. Watch TV. Eat a little bit. Heck, I didn’t even make it out to the grocery store. It was all too cold and rainy and I just didn’t feel like going outside. I didn’t even do laundry (requires a trip outside, which Chase would have loved. Sorry, little buddy, no “cat hunting” time for you this weekend. It was just too cold and wet.)
And then yesterday, after my great post on rain and how we should all go out and conquer the rain, how we should be all so inspired by the great cold and wet offering from the sky, one of my regular readers, Mythopolis, commented how he loves to stay at home with vodka in his pajamas and watch Netflix when it’s raining. Oh, God! I so want to stay at home and do THAT. Doesn’t that sound really good right about now?
[OK, LISTEN UP GREAT UNIVERSE IN THE SKY. I want to stay at home and watch Netflix. I really would love some Bailey’s and coffee right about now, in my bed, thank you very much, with a GREAT MOVIE on my TV set and some time to just curl up and finish some nice books I’ve started over the Thanksgiving holiday. PLEASE. PLEEEEAAAASEEEE. Can I have a day off? We thank you in advance for your cooperation. –The Management]
Oh, my plan for “seize the opportunity! Go out in the rain!” backfired in oh so many ways, let me tell you. Now I’m going to spend all day fantasizing about spending all day in my pajamas with a cup of Bailey’s and coffee with like maybe a good movie on the idiot box. Oh snap! This is so wrong in oh so many ways.[Back to the serious blog post for a moment, shall we?]
One of the problems with doing art as a “hobby” (gosh, I hate that word) is that we essentially do it as a second job. As somebody who’s kept a “second job” for about 20 years now, I have to tell you, there are times when I get really very tired. There are times, there are days I come home from “work” and have to go back to “work” and I just so feel like going to bed. It’s hard being an artist. If you do it full-time, you often find yourself broke, without any money. If you do it part-time, you often find yourself with any time at all, no time left to do any of the “little things” like lead a “normal” life. Some of the “soccer Mom” type people I know routinely complain about having to pick the kids up from practice or host in-laws for dinner or some such thing. That’s child’s play compared to the life of an artist, really it is. If you don’t believe me, try it for a week, if you can even make it that long.
Being an artist is a big commitment. You have to commit yourself to pursue your passion and that might mean giving up simple things, like TV, trips to the mall, dinners with the in-laws. You have to be an artist 24×7, there’s no half-way out of this. It’s an all or nothing endeavor. Many of the artists I know are working artists and this means they have “day jobs” (everything from being a waitress to working at Macy’s to working in high-tech, you name it.) Even without a “day job” you have to spend a lot more time “at work” than most people who work full-time. That means sitting in front of the computer, running to the pak-mail place to send out work, sorting invoices, doing taxes, arranging model releases, getting prints ready, uploading or resizing files, and tons of other stuff that maybe the casual observer does not “see” but needs to be done. It really is a full-time job being an artist. It’s full-time and then some. Most creative types work a lot of hours and sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.
When people ask me “what do you do?” I often tell them I have two jobs. I work in high-tech some, yes, but I’m also an artist and photographer. One of these jobs pays me very well while one is very rewarding. And I wouldn’t change that for the world, really I wouldn’t. I love the balance of being able to shoot what I want and not have to worry about clients. I also love the steady paycheck high-tech affords me. Just yesterday, I was browsing $58 dollar paint brushes. I could not do that if I were only a poor “starving” artist. My “day job” as it were allows me the opportunity to do more with my art. It allows me to travel and affords me the best art supplies money can buy. I don’t want to be a poor, struggling painter who can’t afford her next tube of paint, believe me, that’s no fun. That’s not a pretty place and I will do everything I can, everything in my power, to avoid ending up there.
When asked by students or other artists when I’m going to quit my day job or, even worse, if I think they should quit their day jobs (often I get asked quite bluntly, “when do you think I’ll be good enough to quit my day job?”) I always reply with the same answer:
KEEP YOUR “DAY JOB” AS LONG AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN.
It’s great to have a source of solid, steady income and, trust me, no matter how good an artist, photographer, or musician you think you are, you’ll always appreciate having a “cash cushion.” It’s just good for you and it makes for better art. It’s easier to make art when you don’t have to worry about paying the bills, when you don’t have to worry about where next month’s rent is going to come from or when you don’t have to worry about how you are going to be able to afford your next tube of paint. It might seem like a pain to have to go to work and then come home and go to work again but it’s not really. It’s building discipline. That’s something artists need to become successful anyway. You don’t really think that great artists sit around in lounges all day staring at the walls, do you? They don’t call it artWORK for nothing, get used to it. It’s a grind and you had best learn early and often how to pick-up the pace if you really want to survive or begin to make it as a creative type. Artists are some of the hardest working people on the planet, they just don’t look like they are doing much because they really love their work and get to do fun stuff, but it’s still work.
As to me, as to when I will completely quit the old day job, I’m not 100% sure about that one. I do feel it slipping away and don’t feel as pressing a need to keep one but, please do recall, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now. Maybe it’s about time but, then again, maybe not. It’s all too easy to fall into the grind of just keeping it and keeping on so that I have that steady cushion but I’m also at a point in my career where if it fell through I would be ok too. I am almost ready to make the switch but don’t want to fully commit yet.
More on this in future topics and posts, I’m sure. Until then, I’m going to try to get over this “she took to her bed” mentality although I might really just take a day off. It couldn’t hurt to relax for a day or two and nobody would really miss me if I did it, just for a day. Just for one little old day, I might just go the Netflix and Bailey’s route but, you know, I’m not going to stay there for long. I’ve still got some pastels floating around in my head and it’s not going to be “rainy day curl up in bed with a good book” weather for long now, is it?
Until next time…