Saturday, May 9, 2009

A letter to my fellow artists

Dear fellow artists,

You are all pricks. I repeat, pricks.

But that's alright. I'm one too.

The reason all said artists (which include, but are not limited to: actors, painters, comedians, musicians, singers, circus performers, mimes, and prostitutes) are pricks is mainly due to a selfish nature. As artists, we pretty much turn out to be selfish even when we don't want to be. Because at the end of the day, we want to know who liked my routine, who heard my song, who commented on my painting, and of course, the grand daddy of them all..."when do I get paid?"

To be fair, this situation is kind of out of our control. There is nothing wrong with putting together a work for the right reasons. It doesn't matter to me if it's to reach a particular group, or if it's to say something meaningful, or even if it's to just entertain a crowd. In the end, you're all dandy. A-number one. I'm very proud of you and I mean that despite any sarcastic tone. But with those hopes of meaning and outreach come hopes of putting food on our respective tables. Perhaps we even want to feed a whole family with what we do. And if being an artist is what we do, then we need to be selfish in order for people to pay attention and, in turn, pay us. Most artists are all for free art, but even those advocates accept donations (which, again, I don't have a problem with). Our calling as artists almost forces us to be selfish.

Is there a cure for this? The answer falls between "perhaps" and "sort of". We want to get paid, meaning we want people to pay attention to us, meaning we need to take hold of something. Let's all say it together:


To an artist, initiative is an ugly word, especially when you throw in the money factor. This is because artists are generally not businesspeople. We don't want to deal with W-2s or 401ks or any of that jazz. We want to support ourselves with what we do and we pick up this mentality and attitude that if we are talented enough things are just going to start happening. For some, it does work out that way. But for most, it's because the initiative kicks in.

The other unfortunate thing with initiative is that you have to "take" it. Artists don't so much take as they do create. Many of us make something out of nothing and this creation is fueled by something almost unexplainable. Initiative is explainable, and it can be explained best as "work". When artists aren't creating, we're generally lazy. We don't see what we do as "work" and therefore we don't see any need to "work", especially when we aren't creating. When else are we going to take our break?

I am fortunate enough to know potential non-pricks. In particular:

An individual who tirelessly went from job to job since graduating college and now works steady for Disney.

And an individual who recently earned his graduate degree and will not accept anything less than he deserves.

We may not be businesspeople, but we need to all understand is that art is, among other things, a business. To have a successful business, you have to give a lot in order to get a lot, which takes initiative.

I am at a point where I need to take initiative, and I hope to God it actually happens.

So to all my fellow pricks, let's get this done.

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