I don’t think I want to be a full-time artist. Then again, I don’t think I want to be a full-time anything. Moving to Toronto and paying real bills for the first time ever really has forced me into this thing called full-time employment and I don’t think I am built for it. Maybe no one is. Maybe almost everyone is living to work and working to live, running out of hours in the day and hoping they can squeeze more out of the next 24. But I can’t help but feel like I am especially inefficient.
I am someone who is motivated by passion and inspiration that comes from a mysterious balance of external and internal factors. When it’s gone, I don’t even know where to start to look for it. Now over a year ago, when school switched to online instruction due to the pandemic, I lost it. I really lost it and I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t know how to do things I didn’t want to do, how to focus on the uninteresting, my work ethic was shit. I spent all this time maintaining that being a good student was a critical part of my identity. I kept up that reputation because I was involved and a high academic achiever, but I was not coping well in the slightest. It felt like the battery in my brain burnt out and no matter how much I turned the ignition key it wouldn’t spark. So, I was stuck using the pull start on my motor, but it was rusty and poorly maintained and I had skipped every arm day for months.
If I’m being honest, even post-graduation I still haven’t felt quite like myself again and I’m beginning to feel like maybe this is just the new update no one asked for. I am scatter brained, impulsive, forgetful and unable to follow routine. Now I know that might sound very pessimistic and harsh, but I don’t really mean it to be, I also recognize that this makes me creative, spontaneous, forgiving and adaptable, it’s just not who I thought I was. And that’s scary and confusing. When I first started to notice this change that felt like a mental downgrade, I clung to the affirmation that “being productive is not who I am”. But as a full-time artist is that not a paradox?
If there is one thing this city has taught me, it is that time is money. So maybe then money is truly the enemy and capitalism is the root of all evil. Working as an artist, you make… what you make. The more you can make… the more you can make. Does that make cents? ;) Maybe that’s a very obvious statement but I don’t think you can fully understand that sentiment until you find yourself turning down inspiration to work on a commission, passing up on practice because it’s not immediately profitable, working with limited materials instead of experimenting because you are terrified of waste. It feels like betrayal towards all of the creative and joyful parts of yourself that loved to make art in the first place.
So, if I am to make art that I love and that leaves me feel energized rather than drained, it simply cannot be my only source of income. It is a conflict of interest that I cannot tolerate for the time being. (Unless the day comes that someone would like to hire me as a salaried artist, then maybe disregard this entire entry.) I want to spend more time doing what I love so I can’t be stressing that it’s taking too long. It hurts my head too much.
Time is my enemy right now, but she used to make me happy. In time, things will change.