I lifted this from a WeWork, the $50 billion coworking fraud.
I love that it's pretending to be a full-size mug when it's actually tiny. Like WeWork.
stop telling me I'm doing what I love
It happened again.
I’ve been told this many, many times, usually when someone wants to underpay me.
But you’re doing what you love. I thought money wasn't your priority.
It became a joke in my dance company. Loading out a show in the rain at 1:00 am: "Doing what welove, y'all!”
Making art isn't a damn hobby, k? Doing what I love means watching the Women's World Cup or going out to dinner or swimming in the ocean. Obviously. Also napping. And, oddly, splitting wood.
As an artist, I am doing what I am called to do.
I do not follow my bliss into the dance studio or writing studio. I follow my curiosity, my restlessness, my deep frustrations, and my deep commitments to those around me. It is, for me, calling and compulsion, part ritual and part community organizing.
If that is love, it is the layered, majestic, sometimes gutting love of a family member: lifelong, deep in my bones, and full of uncomfortable truths.
Yes, making art can be profoundly nourishing. But it ain't always fun. Every artist I know describes the process as (sometimes) a struggle; I don’t know any who begin their process with: Where is my bliss?
Rather, I see artists launched by questions like: What is needed? What is missing? What is invisible and essential? What is unsaid?What is next?
We follow itches, ancestors, obsessions, and vital, hard-to-verbalize impulses, not bliss.
So when you tell me I'm doing what I love while asking me to work for free, I will—after whispering Piss off in my head—say:
Yes, I am doing work I care deeply about.
Work that is also colossally difficult.
And like any venture, for it to be possible, the finances have to work.
If for some reason, you want to hear more from me, I've been on some podcasts (Owltailis a nice tool for looking up podcasts you or anyone else appeared on.)
Listening back to some of them, I'm struck that much of the conversation is us attempting to build language and frameworks to have the discussions we want to have, trying to establish terms for dialogue that honor the vast range of artists’ capabilities and practices. It's a challenge, maybe the challenge.
It's hard to make a life as an artist, and near impossible to do it alone.
For over fifteen years, I've been meeting with artists one-on-one: planning sessions focused on building clarity and momentum. You decide the topic, I ask questions. Together, we turn challenges and intentions into to-do lists.
I am writing to you because you took an Artists Uworkshop or downloaded Making Your Life as an Artist. Focus and attention are essential to artists so if these emails take up your time without giving you something in return, please do hit the unsubscribe button and go make art.