Continued musings on a previous post that got too long — On money-making and being an artist…
My own journey into becoming a working artist included a realization that my initial resistance toward earning money thru my art had a lot to do with viewing money as something unpure.
I’ve come to see it differently. I’ve come to think of making art for money as a way to create a world where creativity is valued–and that appreciation, love, passion for creativity is expressed in monetary form. Sure, there are many ways to express our appreciation, but we declare what we value every day in monetary form as well–food, shelter, fun, causes.
I see that taking this step puts me at risk to fall into ‘sell-out’ mode where I create what I think people want to buy, rather than being true to my own artistic voice and the spirit of art itself. Yet, I choose to see this as a necessary challenge that, should I choose to accept it, can only serve to strengthen my artistic sensitivity, skill, expressive and productive power–because it has forced me to reach down through that inner wall of sell-out self-doubt and grasp doubly hold of what is real, buzzing, on fire for ME and to re-double my faith that there are other humans out there who will resonate.
Should I succeed in reaching that place and infusing into my work, all of the activities and thought processes involved in including money-making not a director of but simply a pragmatic supportive cog in the dominant drive of my own authentic creative/productive process. And, the beautiful thing is that when I overcome the barriers a money-goal poses to being a good artist, I can spend more time developing my expressive voice and producing beautiful, compelling, authentic art because, quite simply, it is my job.
My “Meltdown” experience made me appreciate that although I do feel this way about money and the profit motive having the potential to be a friend to the sincere artist, there is also value in projects that involve no money-making whatsoever.
Meltdown was one of those things. Would it have changed things if I was earning money to hang out at Five Points Park for 5ish hours watching (and drawing) ice melt with John, Marty, and the fluctuating gangs of Sarasotans who wandered by, questioning, touching, licking, posing in front of, and gleefully knifing their mark into the giant ice-block? Would I have felt the same electricity and pull to stick around for more than 15 minutes? Would I feel the same strange sense of pride that I do now, two days later, for having been part of an endeavor that has no obvious purpose other than to try something outlandish, original, requiring hours of labor, planning, and money spent to accomplish?
I don’t know.
I think of money-offering projects like Realize Bradenton‘sArtSlam, which includes stipends for local artists to host grassroots, original public art installations this coming October.Are the performances and projects being created for ArtSlam somehow less authentic because someone’s receiving some money to coordinate it?
I’m curious what John and Marty have to say about this, as well as the others who were and will be part of this project. I’d also love to hear the perspective of folks like my friends and artists Steve McAllister, Misha Rubenstein, Lyndsay Gordon, and Cheeta who are all leading a project for ArtSlam… and, of course, any person who grapples with or cares about creativity and/or how it fits into the making of a world where artists be artists, in all our irrepressible, sometimes weird glory, but artists who are also well fed.
Please, share your thoughts on this. I need help thinking it through.