Lately, I’ve been coming across creatives via the Internet who, like myself, have found ways to earn a living while following their passion.
Today’s web site is this:
Hugh MacLeod draws cartoons on the backs of business cards. An interesting venture that, I must say, probably wouldn’t have excited my SBA/SCORE business counselors. But it is an original idea that has taken off, and, of course, it is more than the idea that has been successful, but it is MacLeod’s creative talent. MacLeod draws images with catchy slogans that capture the attention of even the most ADD-inflicted amongst us in this fast-paced, sound-byte oriented society.
He also sells wine and has written a book on creativity called, “Ignore Everybody.” It’s awesome!
If you’re an up-and-coming creative seeking the meaning of financial life within the constraints of the American universe, check out his web site because he offers some free “tips” that I found inspiring, enlightening and yet practical.
I especially like tip #7: “Keep your day job”! But I would add that finding the appropriate day job is also a good idea. However, that can be just as challenging as is attempting to earn a living as an artist.
If your data entry position is killing your soul then your choices (in this economy) might be to either: a.) find a way to like it–bring an iPod or radio with headset and use the time spent typing mindless drivel to become better educated by listening to books on tape, news programs, foreign language CDs, comedy radio or just your favorite songs, i.e., try to make that job bearable, if not fun.
b.) find another day job that is somehow related to what you’d like to do, i.e., try to get a data entry position in a film studio, publishing company or art shop, for example.
I’ve tried both options, neither which has worked for me (and why I decided to start my own business.) As I mentioned above, finding even the most mundane job within an artist-friendly company is pretty difficult these days, so some artists are stuck, quite frankly, in “corporate hell.” But the importance of protecting your financial situation cannot be emphasized enough. No matter how demeaning or monotonous your job might be, please do think twice about just quitting ANY JOB in this economy! Believe me, dear reader, because I say this with much love and concern for my fellow artists.
I’ve made a documentary on homelessness, remember? (Shameless plug–Rocky Mountain Homelessness, now airing at the Screening Room Nov. 29th, Amherst, NY and on SCC-TV, White Bear Lake, MN.)
So what I’m about to say may shock or dismay you…
It isn’t politically correct (but then nothing I write is…)
It isn’t a very “nice” thing to say/write.
Americans won’t like what I have to say because they keep wanting to believe that this is “the land of opportunity.”
Positive thinking gurus–“the Secret” and “Law of Attraction” aficionados–will hem and haw…
Conservative Republicans will say I’m unpatriotic…
Liberal Democrats will say I’m a conspiracy theorist…
Christian fundamentalists will admonish me for lacking faith in the Lord…
But the reality today is this: homeless shelters (and the living room couches of friends and relatives) are filled with talented, intelligent, capable artists who are finding out the hard way that there just aren’t any living-wage jobs out there for people like them… Yes, I’m sure things were different 20, 30 or more years ago here in the U.S.A., but I’m talking about now. And right now, whether we choose to accept it or not, there are some pretty talented folks out there who are struggling and the world will never see the fruits of their labors when angry landlords evict them, tossing those beautiful paintings and poems into the dumpster.
This isn’t me suggesting we artists give up and become suit-and-tie conformists. Oh no, not at all!
However, I really like MacLeod’s point about maintaining that oh so annoying day job. Money doesn’t buy happiness, per se, but it does buy the resources we need in order to be happy. Believe you me, it is very difficult to be happy, creative and innovative when your stomach hurts and you’re surrounded by abuse, crime, violence and pollution. It takes money to live in comfortable and pleasant conditions and to gather the resources you’ll need to form relationships and gain support from your community.
So please, my artistic brothers and sisters, pursue your art but watch your financial back–always!