Artists Are Different – Mostly

On a recent episode of the Back to Work podcast (you are listening to that one, right?) there was a heated discussion around how many jobs a person can have and really enjoy any level of success or have a decent quality of life. As someone who believes strongly in what I do at both The Day Job and in The Work I thought it was interesting that there was such a strong opinion that either you’re all in or not in. I can’t be the only artist who sees that as really, really weird. How does one go all in on being a sculptor? Or a poet?

At first, I was a little bummed out my the podcast because it seemed to neutralize some of my ideas around my manifesto. But after a week or so of simmering, I think that it strengthens several points. One of them is simply that art is different from business. There are so many brilliant people trying to add entrepreneurs into the same pile with artists that I think I’d lost the distinction myself. There are many similarities, but the fundamental differences cannot be ignored.

An artist is in a lifelong marathon. The Work is a collection that begins the first time we try our hand and ends when we’re planted in the ground. Success is measured in our own minds based on metrics that are not easily explained. History gets to judge our output against all that it remembers, but success is not a moment – it’s not nearly that simple.

Can you work a day job and start a new business? Sure. People do it all the time. But that’s not my question. My question is how the artist can maintain The Work along side The Day Job and still be taken seriously in both places.

I’m not sure of the answer, but I’m actively working on framing the question.

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