If you are like me and you want answers but have a hard time drinking the one size fits all Kool-Aid then this is the blog post for you.
Over the past year or so some friends from grad school and I have been enjoying an online bookclub that discusses art, problems, and books about art and art making. A phrase that comes up a lot is ” how to sustain a life in the arts” and not starve. This, of course, the million dollar question with loads of answers and important books to go along with them, which we sometimes read.
Now, to backtrack a little, the word itself is loaded. Idiots with a computer like to discuss sustainability in reference to food, the environment, and a million other crazy theories. The basis, which is logical, has turned into Area 51 crazy on mostly what not to do rather than how we can move forward.
Naturally art immediately tapped into the frenzy and started to discuss how we could change as a people. Advice ranges from visualizations to mantras to marrying rich people. None of which I have a problem with at all. But I still remain a little stuck. How can artists sustain our lives with very little, or perhaps how can people start liking art enough to sustain artists ? Somewhere in between in where my confusion lies.
The first book we read was called Living and Sustaining a Creative Life edited by Sharon Loudin.
While I was reading the book it was as fun as reading an autobiography but easier. 40 artists talk for a page and a half on how they think they have sustained a creative life. It was the little bit of the voyeurism we all love. As the pages began to bend I could not ignore the common themes. Luck, good investments in real estate ( Williamsburg in 1990), husbands who bring home the bacon, Mary Boone investments, and most graduated from Yale. This survey of all different strategies became one actually. They did not have to worry about money.
We then picked up the free download by Andrew Simonet entitled Making Your life as an Artist. A book with answers for the common man artist, but uncomfortably cultish. I put in the work anyway. I read the book twice, and I answered the questions. I am even on the waiting list for the free consultant meeting. But in the end I don’t buy it. He says some things nobody can deny: artists work too hard, we can say no and not get taken advantage of ( unless you need rent yesterday), and the one thing I do believe in my heart of hearts, we have to be happy for our peers and friends. A win for them is a win for us. Again in theory. So whats wrong with the book? It feels like the secret, and if I begin to buy into the visualize it and it will come moses type stuff then the person I am and do believe in crumbles. Simonet is not wrong, he is just giving us common sense with a twist of Jonestown.
So where am I from where I started? It is true many times in life when you visualize something for yourself: marriage, getting into residencies, grad school, getting the apartment you want, or a gig you applied for, you will get it eventually. If you actually apply. We have control over our time, and how much we waste. We can choose to be positive eliminating stress, and then giving yourself focus to apply to said goals. Hiding never helps no matter how much we want to. Money is a real thing.
So basically nowhere, but I am better off than I was last year so thats a start.