Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Point Just Passed

"No wonder you're late. Why, this watch is exactly two days slow."
- The Mad Hatter, from Alice In Wonderland

People tell me they would love to be an artist. But they always make excuses: there isn't enough time or money, there's no guarantee of being able to make a living. I wonder why they don't apply the same analysis to everything else they do. They have time for a regular job, even if they hate it; they manage to drag themselves to it when they're under-paid, undervalued, exhausted and sick.
Why is it such a big step to sacrifice this grind for something that will provide a deal more spiritual, emotional and social satisfaction? There's no guarantee that you will make a lot of money, that's true. But that's no different to an ordinary McJob. And in the economic new order to which we're all subjected, a steady job (and the equal opportunity to succeed in it) is a myth.
People invest a lot of time and money to study – and qualify for – well-paying, high status careers in business, law, medicine and the sciences. They accept that there's a narrow window of opportunity through which they have to squeeze if they're to succeed. Even if they're highly qualified, this success will depend, in part, on luck, making the right connections, and how much drive and self-belief they can muster. They will be measured constantly and if found wanting, discarded in favour of a better equipped competitor.
One of the most difficult things for most of us to accept is that as soon as a moment has passed, it's gone forever. Putting off something – or procrastinating about it – is a vain attempt to stop time. Every day brings a whole new set of demands and priorities.
Which is why those who really want to be artists have to start right now. If they put it off, the chance might be gone forever.

28 comments:

nadine said...

Powerful stuff and food for thought. I recently came across your blog via Andrea Pratt, and am thoroughly enjoying your take on art and the world.

Lauren said...

To get myself moving on my art I decided to book myself a solo exhibition with only six months to prepare.. stupid? Some people might think so but the deadline itself has been the push I needed to get serious about painting and my work. Am I going to slack off or am I going to work full days and make it really happen? The slacking off always sucked, but the hard work is seriously a joy. I've realised how much I fell short of the hard work needed to truly make it work in my studio.

You're so inspiring with your work ethic Hazel. And it's great that you are willing to share with other artists to inspire them too.

fantasio said...

Great words, thats exacly how I feel and think about things recently.

Do everything you do with passion, if you can´t do that its probably not a life -its hell;-)

Vanyvalu said...

Wonderful post, i absolutely loved it! You left no space for any excuses.
Thank you.

Virginia said...

Your writing is an addiction and your journey an inspiration and true and generous guide Hazel, thank you.

Tina Mammoser said...

Bravo. That's all. :)

Angela said...

Exactly so.

*nodnod*

Rock the hell on.

fish said...

Thanks for this post. It helped me make my mind up about something.

JT Harding said...

great little post!

nathe said...

It really is that simple isn't it.

I actually think this shows the power of our past programming. Go to school>get good grades> get a good job>buy a house> settledown>get old>die. box, box, box, box, box box.......

I'm not sure we think enough about the last 2 coming when we "plan" the first 5! "Do what you love" is an all too rare teaching in the system through which most of us are processed. I missed ">be happy" on purpose, because not enough people build that into the system or even ask what it means. It is assumed if you do the rest that will naturally come.

Thanks Hazel.

terra210 said...

In a Tom Wolfe book, there was a cartoon of an artist at a party. He was pissing in the fireplace. He stood alone at the party, at that moment. At other moments he was the reason for the party. No one else at the party pissed in the fireplace.

If people are not artists, they just have no real desire to be so. Some people have no desire to be a doctor, so they go to one instead, (in my opinion they are stupid for doing so). Others have no desire to be a mother; Because they had one instead. Ha! It's all so crazy....

Maria Brophy said...

Someone said once "you are what you do every day."

My sister calls herself an artist, but she only paints once or twice a year. She's been thinking about being an artist for about 15 years. She's almost 40 and all that time has gone by. I don't understand why she works retails jobs that pay nothing......

Your post makes a great point.

Ashley Handlin said...

you took the words out of my mouth and wrote them down so eloquently.

ive been saying that this whole 'normal job = security' thing is an utter myth! here in the US people are always looking behind their backs waiting to see whose gonna be fired next. it would be comical if it werent so depressing witnessing how many people gave up on life before it even started.

starryeyez said...

Awesome post,Cheers for you Hazel.keep up the good work.
& thank you for sharing it with us Ms.Handlin ..

Elizabeth Patch said...

I found you through a long trail of links from twitter, and this post was exactly what I needed to read as I struggled with the end of another weekend filled with chores, the day job coming up on Monday, and almost no art produced...now some coffee and back to the studio!

Jimmykellyart said...

You should bea self help guru hazel, what you said was not only true but economical and very much too the point, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. Thanks for the reminder of why we keep painting

danimations said...

I share this sentiment absolutely. I'm a relentless creative toiler myself, and have watched my peers thin out over the years, as they each surrendered to replacing their creative goals with the dreams of the common Australian- home ownership, nuclear families, financial security, grind. I'm with you Hazel, I'd dry up if I weren't creatively engaged on a daily basis.

Zoe Tan said...

wow! You're so right! Thanks for such a good advise...we've been giving too much excuses to not do what we love. Thanks, I think I just got motivated :)

C. k. Agathocleous said...

Earn money or do what you love is a false dichotomy. You can work to pay the bills and still create. If you really love it, you do what you have to/want to can to survive and then still make art.

It seems like people need to hear the extremes of a view before they can swing to the middle though.

kylecassidy said...

i suspect that if you can find a good excuse not to, you never were in the first place....

ronald said...

Hi Hazel, I'm new to your blog and I have every intention of coming back to read your words of wisdom. While I respect everything you said, and it makes sense. Still, I think you left out something important, there is a reason why, through out art history, from the greatest artists on down to the not so greatest artist, at some point in each of their lives they had to have a day job to survive. Personally I think it's more important to find a way to make your art no matter what, even if you have to have a day job to help allow you to do it. Thanks!

Darren Daz Cox said...

People who are concerned about material satisfaction and fear the end of their productive lives are doomed to suffer their fate. Better to be like Vincent van Gogh anyday..

Zachary said...

This post..is amazing..and so, so true.

Your comments about the 'myth' that is the learning and job process ring true in me. I think it would do people a lot of good to try and do things that make them happy, or at least HAPPIER.

nakedpastor said...

I would love to read this post. I'll get to it when I get some free time. No... just kidding. True words!

Joan said...

Ronald has a point, there's nothing wrong with a day job IF you can still fins time for your art. (yes, I wasted a lot of time in my past years) No worries about paying bills, being able to buy the supplies you need, no wondering if you need to change what you're doing to sell so you can eat. AND I one more year I have retirement! (at 55) monthly money coming in with 100 percent of my time my own, Art being my only "job", skills are honed, somewhat established (on a small scale) but now ready to see where this takes me.

Buenaverno said...

art or whatever it is... just let express your inner-self!

Dale Anne Potter said...

EXACTLY!
THANKS for this post!

Living debt free and selling art when we need the extra is so much healthier!!!

Jamie Kalvestran said...

Thank you for the reminder. I'm with you on this.