Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Theory

Seb sent me a link to an old Gaping Void post about how we often try to balance different kinds of work in our lives -- his theory on creative work:
"The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended."
As I wrote in my response to Seb, one of the things I like about this representation is that he doesn't lapse into the old stereotype of the artist having to wait tables or dig ditches to pay the bills...in most of the examples he's using, the artist is doing related (but not likely passionate) work to pay the bills, which is probably more accurate for more people. Many of us try to at least find work in in the right field for us, if not the ideal job description within the field that will pay us to do what we love.

I suppose the holy grail is passionate work that also pays well and leaves time for other important areas of our lives, but I don't see many people pulling that off. Seems to make most sense to try to keep living expenses low so that the day job doesn't have to consume as much time, freeing up more resources to pursue the creative work that could at some point pay for itself.

5 comments:

Heather said...

This posting really resonates with me tonight... thanks for the thoughtfulness.
H

Max Leibman said...

I think the tension you describe can be a blessing in disguise--as you say, many find their pay-the-bills job in something at least tangentially related to their passion. As long as one doesn't "settle in" too much to the duality, as long as one keeps stretching and trying to find ever-more-interesting pay-the-bills work, there can be an interesting triangulation. One may find a "Sexy" job that's even more interesting and fulfilling than the art had been--a calling that wouldn't have been found if one simply accepted the duality and tension as the way things are.

It's a reality and true for every generation of artists, but accepting it as a permanent state is a choice, not an inevitability.

Garth said...

I think for the most part, the people I see working are aimed at the almighty $$$ so that they can pay for toys to play with on the weekend and often suffer with 25+year mortgages to afford a house that they really can't afford.

I struggle with balancing my bank accounts but am not willing to give up my job that clearly is fueled by passion and not my monthly cheque. In fact, my salary has been frozen for the past three years due to cutbacks. I struggled signing my contract this year not because I don't love what I do but it is hard to doing what I love with my current pay and raising a family.

Keeping those living expenses low are tough with my love of great food, travelling, and my addiction to outdoor sports. I still prefer my sexy, creative job? over being stuck in a suit...although driving around that ferrari wouldn't suck.

Jeremy said...

Good point, Max. Those "pay-the-bills" jobs often involve skill development, new contacts and opportunities you might not have otherwise pursued.

Jeremy said...

"Keeping those living expenses low are tough with my love of great food, travelling, and my addiction to outdoor sports."

This rings so true for me, Garth. Keeping expenses low is one thing, but if you start feeling like you're depriving yourself of the things you love, it doesn't feel sustainable. Enforced poverty is no fun.

It sounds like you've probably been finding ways to live well within your means, even while making decisions that favour quality of life over income. You're in the minority on both counts, I think.