Testament to Patrons and Artists Alike

I was talking to a friend of mine the other night about the struggle of being an artist while still being able to pay rent and eat—and it IS a struggle for many.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not comparing this struggle with that of, say, a soldier in a bunker getting shot at.  What I am saying is that there is a section of ANY populace that makes the conscious decision to create, and for the vast majority of them it leads to a bottom-of-the-food-chain status on the economic ladder.

Some do it because they can’t do anything else.  Some do it for love of the craft.  Some do it because they want to strike it rich.  Some do it… well, hell, there are lots of reasons.  We’re frequently looked at as slackers and flakes and dreamers of impossible dreams.  We’re scorned by most of the mainstream until and unless we “make it big.”  We choose to forgo the daily grind of 8 to 5 (or 6 or 7 or 8) and kowtow to masters who all-to-frequently are undeserving of the term.

There are those among humanity who would do away with the arts by doing away with artists.  We’re considered frivolous and non-contributors in many circles.  And if we don’t contribute in a manner commensurate with the mainstream, then we are an enemy to their conformist sensibilities.

But every now and again, one of us finds the perfect gig, that means to transition from no-time artist to part-time artist to—hopefully—full-time artist.  I was fortunate enough to find such a gig.  I’m able to work part-time (about 20 or so hours a week) and still pay my mortgage, car, utilities and groceries.  Granted, I have to catch up with my property tax, but I’m working on that… repairs and replacements of refrigerator, disposal, water heater and swamp-cooler all put a divot in my liquid assets.

I work as a technical writer for a growing software development company here in Denver, Colorado.  And although I don’t think the two owners at Blue Dot Solutions know it, they are patrons of the arts in the classic Renaissance sense of the phrase.  I simply could not be pursuing my writing career without the situation they’ve created for a writer.  I owe them a debt of gratitude that I someday hope to be able to repay.

The reason I’m telling you all this is that, if you’re an artist who struggles to find the time to create, do your best to find a situation that allows you to meet your fiduciary obligations with the smallest amount of time and energy invested.  Gigs like this are out there.  They take time to find… and a little luck.  You have to make the conscious decision to gamble just a little with your future.  Do your best to get down to a bare-bones existence.  Eliminate credit cards.  Don’t buy that T.V. or Playstation.  Don’t eat out, and each cheap when you eat at all.  Tighten those belts you would-be creators.  Invest in your creativity, because you have a gift and the world deserves to know about it.  It means working hard… working harder than most people will ever know, but the means justify the ends, and the satisfaction you can engender from the effort is without compare.

Create.

Q.

3 thoughts on “Testament to Patrons and Artists Alike

  1. Great post.

    I’d like to add that you have to LOVE your creativity, because if you don’t, others will intentionally or unintentionally try to get you to stop. When I began writing my book, I told my family at a dinner that I was writing it. Both my sister and sister-in-law both laughed at me cynically (that’s difference than being humorous). If you don’t love what you do, you’ll cave under. It has to be “in your soul” to do what you love to do. It’s almost like breathing, you just have to do it.

    If you DON’T do what you love, the life is sucked right out of you.

    Pursue it, but keep your head about you.

  2. This is a great article Q and I agree that there are many people who look at us as slackers, ne’er-do-wells and hopeless dreamers… It’s incredibly hard at times to bear that kind of criticism.

    Your article and others like it inspire us to soldier on and do what we love because it’s the dreamers, the creators and the artists who make this world a beautiful place to live in. We are the manufacturers of hope. We are the angels of joy that fly side-by-side with the Muse so that we can make this world a place worth living in. We sing the songs of the heart and, most importantly, we’re ambassadors of all that is cool.

    Thank you!! – Chaz

  3. I had to give up a career in emergency medicine at the age of 20 due to health reasons. It left me bereft and concerned that I had nothing to contribute to society if I wasn’t saving lives. Months later, I wrote a poem for a dear friend at my 9-5 job. She was charmed and inspired, and expressed an envy and admiration of my talent. Tears nearly spilled from her eyes. In that moment I finally realized the impact of art and creativity on the world in general. I realized that poetry, prose and art can influence a person’s life.

    The act of creating is a deeply personal and emotional effort. One that many people simply cannot be vulnerable enough to commit to. It’s not an easy path, but it is a meritorious one. We are all born with innate talents. And I have come to believe that the invisible talent of an artist is to inspire those around him or her. To soothe them in their trials, and shake them up when they have become stagnant.

    Flash forward 24 years. I now believe that art can occasionally save a life. But more likely, it has the potential to improve the quality of life of anyone who comes into contact with it. And I think that’s worth a little compromise and struggle to pursue what I am driven to do.

    Thank you, Quincy, for voicing what many of us believe and agree with. You inspire and encourage with your gifts. And I for one, am grateful.

    Now where are the scissors? I’m going to cut up that credit card… 😉

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