I sat down with a state employee yesterday, a requirement as I go through the various processes involved with shifting gears from ‘gainfully employed’ to ‘not so much’ for the time being. It was inevitable, and as indicated, required. It was a pleasant enough experience, like a jingle or a pop song, purposeful and fairly cheery… with one wrong note. Discussing skills and experience, she dismissed both my painting and my writing as ‘hobbies’ and told me in a frank and practical tone that those “don’t count” and I “should stay focused on real work skills” when seeking employment. I laughed and playfully pointed out what a buzz kill that must be for graphic artists, and technical writers… she looked at me oddly and said she didn’t understand what I meant. Oh my. Say it with me, People, “art is real work, so is writing, so is acting, so is philosophy – yes, people can (and should) be paid to think, and paid to create.

Can we please just make one change in the way we view productivity? Can we please recognize the inherent value of creative works? 🙂 Hell, the most important work I have done as a human being has been artistic work; not a damned thing I’ve ever done for corporate America has been worthy of further consideration once the moment has passed. (This is likely quite true for most ‘gainfully employed’ human beings – most of the effort for which we are compensated lacks meaning, it is simply revenue generating for that employer, and therefore valued sufficiently for [required] compensation – and based on the brouhaha over increasing the minimum wage, they grudge workers even that.)

Again and again, I am struck by how reluctant we seem to be to pay artists. It’s a little weird, isn’t it? We pay the barista who makes our coffee, the cashier who rings up our groceries, the mechanic who services our vehicle, the firefighters who stand by ready to fight fires (and who get paid even when nothing is on fire), we pay CEO types who may do literally nothing besides attending meetings and answering emails (and we pay them very well), hell – we even pay athletes to play games they’d likely pay for free, to secure the reliable playing of the game at a venue large enough for paying crowds to attend. What’s with expecting artists – any kind of artists – to work for free? (By the way, working for ‘exposure’ is the identical same thing as working for free!) How is painting not work? How is writing not work? How is acting not work? I mean, seriously folks… if you allow the average CEO, or executive manager, or pro athlete to identify their compensated activities as ‘work’, then how is a painter not working? How is a novelist not working? How is a poet not working? Seriously? Don’t be dicks. It may not be easy to place a painter in a paid position as a painter – but for fuck’s sake is it necessary to denigrate that meaningful work, by saying it isn’t ‘real work’? I’ll admit to being more than a little irked that the government will subsidize farmers, but not artists. It’s easy to see that filling the stomach of the nation is important… Is it so difficult to see that feeding our hearts, minds, and souls is important, too? Would we perhaps be better human beings if we more easily recognized artistic endeavors as valued work? I think it is worth thinking about. (End rant. 🙂 )

work

Not yet ready for ‘real work’, there is real work to be done to finish moving into my studio. 🙂

It is a lovely morning. I plan to spend the day [working] in the studio, aside from one pause for an interview call. The practical requirements of life must still be met, and I hope to find a position from which I can invest more time in artistic endeavors. I feel unhurried and well-prepared. My traveling partner shared a great quote with me yesterday that fuels and encourages me. “Chance favors the prepared mind.” (Louis Pasteur) I take additional steps to be that ‘prepared mind’ as I live my life and study life’s curriculum, extending my studies into new areas that have the potential to enhance my existing (monetarily valued) skills; I have enrolled in some coursework in analysis and economics. (I continue to be a big fan of continuing education, and it has served me well over the years.)

Today is a good day to be spent on practical matters and taking care of this fragile vessel. Today is a good day to invest in infrastructure (through educating myself, tidying up my studio, maintaining an organized living space, and practicing the practices that build emotional resilience and self-sufficiency). Yes, there are verbs involved. 🙂