This morning, a young exterminator came to my house as I apparently have rats in my attic (San Diego is rat heaven, in case you didn’t know). He kept looking at my art-covered walls and said that I had some great pieces. He talked knowledgeably about it. I asked him why he was an exterminator when he obviously had such art knowledge and he said “I’m a photographer. I do this to pay the bills.”
It was all I could do not to hug the kid. He was unquestionably devoted about his art and would not compromise on it, so he had no complaints about having to kill rats and the like to earn the money for his “camera addiction.” He talked about how he had so much to learn and far to go, but that he made his art whenever he could (and he does so regularly–rather than go out or whatever) and this job was a perfectly fine way to make a living while he walked his along the path. He had absolutely no shame about his day job, and I loved him for it.
The next time you think about taking a bad deal because you need the money, remember the kid who, rather than sell out his art, climbs into disgusting places to kill dangerous beasties. Face it, what he does is, for must of us, pretty close to the proverbial ditch-digging in cache. Let his respect for his art rather than pride in his ego remind you that protecting your art is worth far more than your (imaginary) pride. You need money? Get a job. Don’t sell out your art.